Airbrushing has gained popularity as a hobby and even professional artists swear by it to produce incredibly detailed. Progressing to an airbrush is natural for creative people in the process of developing their skills.
An airbrush shoots aerosolized particles of acrylic mediums, paints, and pigments alongside particulate matter in the form of overspray and fumes which hang in the air. Although most paints made for airbrushes are non-toxic themselves, that is not the real issue. The problem arises in the functioning of your lungs which can only process gases and not particulate matter. Any time a chemical, such as your airbrush paint, gets atomized, you stand the risk of breathing tiny bits of it floating around you.
Airbrush safety equipment like mask are often overlooked by artists, but should be taken seriously.
Even if your studio or workspace is well-ventilated, airbrushing often leaves a cloud of harmful particulates which you could easily be breathing in while working. Without masks, your lungs are forced to be the default filter for you and your room and honestly, that’s too much to ask of your lungs.
Why invest in a mask?
While airbrushing using paints and other chemicals, you are well-advised to take safety precautions in order to protect you and your family or colleagues. Investing in a mask can protect your airways from harm. Although non-toxic to a great extent, it is good practice to cover your nose and mouth with an effective N-95 dust mask when working water-based paints. Remember, the simple surgical masks are not recommended for this. Artists who work with urethanes, lacquers, and acetones should wear a respirator mask with a filter appropriate to that kind of paint.
Wearing a respirator can be deemed excessive depending on the paint type being used, so it’s always better to contact the paint’s manufacturer if in doubt.
Our suggestion is to err on the side of safety, and always use a mask, if not a respirator, that is of good quality and recommended for paint. You should use the equipment appropriate for the paint type. By doing so you prevent overspray and fumes ending up in your lungs causing irreversible health issues.
When choosing a respirator or mask keep in mind the following:
- Do a thorough pressure fit check when putting on your mask. It should be a snug fit for your face. A well-fitted mask prevents entry of all particulates.
- The mask should suck in against your face when you cover the filters and breathe in.
- You should feel air trying to escape along the edges of the seal when you exhale, but not actually escaping.
You might feel a sense of invincibility as artists sometimes do and brush aside the hazards associated with breathing in aerosolized paints. It’s understandable to a certain extent because it’s a risk that you hardly notice. Besides, wearing a mask while working especially during summers isn’t the most comfortable proposition. However, the damage to your lungs over the years adds up.
So, if you plan to start airbrushing, make sure you have airbrush kits and without fail a well-fitting mask that will help you both physically and creatively.