No Breathing Allowed

Should works of art carry a government health warning? A piece being displayed at New York City's New Museum of Contemporary Art could have used such a caveat. When Eclipse of the Earth by Kazuo Katase was installed last month, the work's dusty red coloring agent contained zinc sulfide and barium sulfate. The chemicals caused severe respiratory and skin problems for some employees, they claim. A staff memo admitted that "ingestion of the pigment will cause illness, and the inhalation of the dust is known to cause lung irritation." Although the powder was replaced 12 days later, three workers resigned and...

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