A woman seated in front of a bookcase

Cheryl never expected that teaching art would give her a chronic lung disease that was more common in tradies

Cheryl Millership was devastated to discover that her four decades as an art teacher and ceramicist had left her with chronic lung disease.

Her diagnosis of silicosis in 2018 forced her to give up the career she loved, most of which she had spent on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

“Making something with your hands is a beautiful thing to do,” said Mrs. Millership.

“My favorite part of the job is definitely the look on the kids’ faces when I take something out of the oven.”

Four years ago, she had to quit teaching and making ceramics after being diagnosed with silicosis, a condition she developed after teaching for decades in what she described as small, poorly ventilated rooms that worked with clay and cleaned up after her students.

“I’ve done a lot of cleaning up on them and trying to keep the area clean is a big part of a ceramics teacher’s job,” she said.

“I was aware that I couldn’t have too much dust in the room, so you’re constantly cleaning.

“Virtually any surface, including the floor throughout, will have clay in it.”

Ms Millership is concerned that other teachers are at risk for respiratory disease and are not aware of it.ABC news

She suspects that her cleaning regimen prolonged her exposure to silica dust and left her vulnerable to developing silicosis.

After she changed schools, she was assigned to a particularly dirty classroom, where she developed her career-ending cough.

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