When using an airbrush, you are spraying paint that could be inhaled. This brings us to the question, whether or not you should wear an airbrush mask or respirator. Read further to discover more about airbrushing and what type of airbrush mask is best to use.
Why you should wear a Respirator for Airbrushing
Whenever paint is atomized, it is important to wear a mask, as toxic fumes could get into the air. While airbrushing with whatever paint you are using, you should be using a specific designed airbrush mask or respirator. The mask helps to prevent any fumes or excess paint from being breathed in.
There are different paint types and some of them are more dangerous to use than others. Some use water-based acrylic paints, and in this case, some might say it is not necessary to wear a proper mask. Since the paint is water-based, it is thought of as non-toxic. Unfortunately, all paints should be considered toxic to some degree, each paint product having its own level of toxicity.
What to consider when Airbrushing
As you use your airbrush device, it will atomize the paint or break it up into smaller particles. Therefore, when airbrushing, there are two things you must be aware of:
This term means some paint particles don’t go where you want it to. The paint can be seen as exceedingly small paint drops on surfaces that you weren’t aiming for. Most of the atomized paint lands up where you want it to, but some droplets will land outside the focus area and will also be released into the air. The paint in the air can be breathed in if you are not wearing a proper mask for airbrushing. This could cause harm to the lungs and respiratory system.
The paint also gives off vapors or fumes, which could prove toxic. There are a variety of paints you can buy, all of which can produce harmful fumes. The least toxic paint you can use is the water-based acrylic paints. They do not produce a lot of fumes or harmful odors. On the other hand, the solvent-based paints like the urethanes or enamel paints, produce some quite harmful and toxic fumes. These fumes will in the long-term, cause damage to the lungs.
When you know what type of paint you are going to be using, it is wise to make use of a mask for airbrushing that protects you from both the overspray and the toxic fumes. We are mainly focusing on lung protection, but protecting your eyes is also important.
What Type Airbrush Respirator should you use?
You will find that a painting mask is best when using solvent-based paints as well as water-based paints. The masks consist of two filters where the air passes through, depending on the style of filter. The first layer removes particles from the air and the second layer filters out the fumes.
Those of you who work with enamels and lacquers while airbrushing will understand the overpowering smells produced. In the case of solvent-based paints, it is therefore essential to wear a proper airbrush mask or painters mask.
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Even if you are only working with water-based acrylic paints, it is best to be safe and wear the correct respirator for airbrushing. Even if the water-based paints are less toxic, there are still ingredients in the paint you should not be breathing in.
What to look for when choosing an airbrush respirator? This is simple, choose a mask that filters both paint particles and fumes.
Other factors to consider when choosing an airbrush mask:
Make sure the mask is NIOSK approved and states that it is specifically used for spray painting.
You have to replace filters, so it is best to buy a mask that is popular locally and that is manufactured by a well-respected company.
The airbrush respirator must fit comfortably and has to seal properly around the face.
Make sure you can buy the filters apart from the mask, as you will have to replace the filters, and this will be cheaper.
When looking for a mask, have a look at reviews on the various products available. Check out how they use the mask and if it works well.
What can you use besides an Airbrush Mask?
There are spray booths you can use instead of a mask. The booths are designed to remove a certain amount of the atomized paint in a contained area. The booth is mainly used to prevent any overspray from getting onto other items and to decrease the amount of spray that gets into the surrounding air.
When spray painting in a location where you don’t want the paint to get onto anything else, then a spray boot can come in handy. If you are not really concerned about the overspray, then it might not be worth the cost and time using a spray booth.
If you choose not to wear an airbrush mask, which is not advisable, a spray booth would be better than nothing. But the spray booth is a poor substitute for a mask as it does not filter out all the paint particles. Every time you airbrush, it is recommended you use a proper mask in order to remain completely safe.
The most important thing to remember when airbrush painting, is to wear a proper respirator. Failing to do so will only lead to health issues because of the inhaled paint particles and fumes. Using a basic dust mask won’t be effective in protecting you. The mask used should be one that is specifically manufactured for airbrush painting.
Questions and Answers about Airbrushing
Airbrushing indoors, is this safe?
Yes, you can airbrush indoors, just make sure there is enough ventilation. Many of the paints are water-based acrylic and safer to use than solvent-based paints, but ventilation remains important.
Can you spray Paint outside without a Mask?
This is not recommended as the toxic solvent vapors can remain around for a while. Being exposed to these toxic particles and fumes, even in small amounts, can eventually cause health problems. Therefore, always wear an airbrush mask.