Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Safety first

It's February and NaMoPai is finally here! More than two hundred and fifty hobbyists from sixteen different countries have signed up to paint a model this month. It's wonderful and exciting and also, potentially dangerous. Before you pick up that spray can or paintbrush, please take a moment to read this guest post by Canadian finishwork artist, Isaac Brushett. There's a lot of really important information here. Thank you so much, Issac, for this timely reminder!

Safety First

by Isaac Brushett

Let's talk about safety. We all love what we do and want to keep doing it, but customizing and painting can come with some health risks. This is something I feel strongly about, as it put me in the hospital with an anaphylactic reaction. So let's look at some products commonly used by hobbyists.
Easy Off Oven Cleaner (us the blue can, it's less harmful). Lots of artists use this to strip paint. 

Let's look at some ingredients shall we?

Diethylene Glycol n-butyl ether

Fact: If DGBE is present in a fire situation, it can produce carbon monoxide (highly toxic) and carbon dioxide (an asphyxiant at sufficient concentrations). Essentially this can kill you.

Fact: a Glycol ethersolvent, is a clear liquid with a very low odor and high boiling point. It serves as a solvent for paints and varnishes, in the chemical industry, household detergents, brewing chemicals and textile processing. Also, the substance is used as raw material in the chemical synthesis.

Basically, this is a highly toxic chemical that can kill you if not used correctly.


Fact: Isobutane is a colorless gas with a faint petroleum-like odor. It is shipped as a liquefied gas under its vapor pressure. Contact with the liquid can cause frostbite. It is easily ignited. The vapors are heavier than air. Any leak can either be liquid or vapor. It can asphyxiate by the displacement of air. Under prolonged exposure to fire or intense heat the containers may rupture violently and rocket.

Fact: If poured in a diesel truck air filter, the truck will start up by its self. They use this when trucks are frozen in the winter. This really is a good example of how strong this chemical is.

This just shows really HOW powerful these products are that we're using.
Primer! We ALL use this! Let's see really how dangerous this is?



Fact: Acetone is a colorless, volatile, flammable organic solvent. Acetone occurs naturally in plants, trees, forest fires, vehicle exhaust and as a breakdown product of animal fat metabolism. This agent may be normally present in very small quantities in urine and blood; larger amounts may be found in the urine and blood of diabetics. Acetone is toxic in high doses. 

Propane toluene 
Fact: As the solvent in some types of paint thinner, contact cement and model airplane glue, toluene is sometimes used as a recreational inhalant and has the potential of causing severe neurological harm.

Fact: an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H3(CH3)3 Classified as an aromatic hydrocarbon, it is a flammable colorless liquid with a strong odor. It is nearly insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents. It occurs naturally in coal tarand petroleum (about 3%).

Dangerous level of Trimethylbenzene?
Flammable liquid and vapor [Warning Flammable liquids]
Harmful if swallowed [Warning Acute toxicity, oral]
Harmful in contact with skin [Warning Acute toxicity, dermal]
Causes skin irritation [Warning Skin corrosion/irritation]
Causes serious eye irritation [Warning Serious eye damage/eye irritation]
Harmful if inhaled [Warning Acute toxicity, inhalation].     

I only listed 2-3 ingredients from each product. There are many more, that are much worse.

Ok so, numbers are numbers. Blah, Blah, Blah. What I'm trying to get across here, is that your putting toxins on your body. And you probably don't realize the severity of them either. A lot of people say you only need gloves and a respirator for ONLY sealing and priming. I disagree. I have them both on at all times. Wanna know why? Well, I don't know about you, but I use cadmium pigments, I like my horses to be alive with colour. Cadmium pigments ARE toxic, and should be used with precaution. Oil paints can be toxic, depending on the colour, be careful with this. But more so the cleaner (such as turpentine, which is HIGHLY toxic. And can do a lot of damage to your lungs). Pigments and pastels, let's talk. There awesome, I use them, and swear by them. But the "smoke" that comes from them are toxic. It may say "non toxic", but your breathing them in. Powered pigment from somewhere in the world, that you have no idea how it's been dried. 

This is how to be safe while painting: A full on respirator with interchangeable filters,
latex free gloves,
Safety mask.
Priming should be outside, or in a well ventilated area. Same for sealing. This can be harmful for your lungs, if not done properly. A mask and gloves should be worn.
For the Dremel, you need safety glasses, there's really no explanation needed here. Particles can fly in your eyes, causing irritation. Long hair should be tied back. Gloves, mask, and safety glasses are needed.
Pigments should be applied in a well ventilated room, same sort of thing for priming/sealing. Gloves and mask are needed.

Airbrushing, same thing as priming/sealing. If you can afford it, buy a spray booth with a tin pipe going out the window. Spend the money if you can!
Gloves and mask are needed.

Oils, not as dangerous, but still need protection. Use in a well ventilated area and try not to get them on your skin. Mask and gloves are needed.

Also. Change your clothes after your done painting! Your practically bathing in chemicals if you've painted in those clothes all day!

This may seem like overkill. But my health is my priority, and yours should be, too. If you're serious about painting, be safe. Don't put your self in the hospital like I did.

If you have any concerns on this, please, don't be afraid to ask questions.

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