Do I Need To Wear A Mask Whilst Airbrushing?

Do I Need To Wear A Mask Whilst Airbrushing?

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Airbrushing is gaining popularity as a hobby and professional artists are producing incredibly detailed masterpieces. The lure of an airbrush is natural for the creative artist in the process of honing their skills.

But an airbrush shoots aerosolized particles of paints, acrylic, and pigments alongside other particulate matter in the form of overspray and fumes that hang in the air you breathe.

Although many paints that are made for airbrushes are non-toxic, that is not the full issue. The problem arises in the proper operation of your lungs which can only process gases and not particulate matter. Whenever a chemical, such as airbrush paint, gets atomized, you run the risk of breathing in the tiny bits of it floating around you.

Airbrush safety equipment like masks are often overlooked by artists but they should be taken very seriously.

Even if your workspace or studio is a well-ventilated area, airbrushing leaves a cloud of harmful particulates that you could easily be breathing in long after working. Without a mask, your lungs are forced to be the filter for you 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 yourself 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 with water-based paints. Remember, 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 summer 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.

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