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Friday, March 13, 2015

Health Hazards and Safety Precautions Associated with Spray Paints

Spray painting is the controlled application of a coating of surface paint to parts of cars and other motor vehicles with the use of an airbrush or mini-spray gun. A typical application requires a few minutes at an average spray rate of 100-150 ml per minute. Since spray painting is a fast and efficient method, many people employ it. One of the main concerns with spray painting is the concomitant exposure of humans to the hazardous chemicals contained in the paint.

Health Hazards and Safety Precautions Associated with Spray Paints

Safety issues  How To Paint A Car 

Most spray paints are cellulose-based while others are water-based. It is important to realize that spray paint can be toxic to humans. What this means for painters is that without the right protective gear, they are at very high risk for developing irritation of the throat, nose and eyes when exposed to paints. This is the reason why regulations require manufacturers and distributors to provide users with the product’s detailed information, specifically the potential health hazards. Spray paint may contain compounds known as isocyanates. This substance is also present in lacquers. The substance is known to elicit asthma attacks and cause moderate to severe cases of acute dermatitis as well. 

Some of the first signs of short-term exposure to paint chemicals are watery or red eyes, recurring running nose, blocked nostrils, breathlessness, wheezing, and chest tightness. These symptoms may also be felt outside of work hours. Other side effects of exposure to the harmful components of spray paint are body itching, skin rash, skin peeling or cracking. Certain symptoms of short-term exposure to hazardous paint vapors suggest an involvement of the central nervous system, such as nausea, dizziness, headache, and poor motor coordination. At the first sign of illness, the symptomatic individual must be removed from the site, and brought to a licensed medical professional for examination. 

On the other hand, long-term exposure to the paint chemicals may cause irreversible damage to the brain and spinal cord, as well as the kidneys, liver, and lungs. Although it has not been determined with certainty, some of the substances contained in these paints are also known to cause different forms of cancer.

Protection for the human respiratory system How To Paint A Car

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) presents a detailed set of guidelines to ensure the safety of workers who work with paints frequently. Protection from spray paint is necessary, and foremost on the list of necessities is a proper facemask. For adequate protection, the most highly recommended by safety experts is the carbon mask. It contains activated carbon that absorbs harmful chemicals, which are in gas form. Another type of mask, the disposable particulate filtering paper masks adequately protect the wearer from the inhalation of particulate matter. However, it offers little protection from chemical vapors. The safer choice is the carbon mask that is certified to protect the wearer from dangerous solvents. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that all the harmful chemicals are filtered out. As such, even with a carbon mask the length of exposure of people to these substances must be limited.

Respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is the topmost priority for painters working with solvent-based paints. If the label on the container specifies the need for a proper respirator, the instructions must be heeded without exception. Otherwise, repeated or prolonged exposure not only causes lung damage, but also damage to the central nervous system, specifically the brain. Similar hazards are associated with water-based paints as well.

There is another important aspect of the safety protocols attached to the use of respiratory protective equipment, and that is proper maintenance and testing of the gear. For instance, prior to donning an air-fed visor RPE, the wearer must check that the flow is smooth, that the low-flow alarm is working, and that the air provided by the respirator unit is clean. A qualified person must also conduct testing on the air quality and the volume flow at regular intervals. This is the best way to ascertain that the gear is in good working condition every time a person uses it.

Other personal protective equipment

Aside from respiratory protective equipment, other personal protective equipment must also be worn in order to protect the skin, the eyes, and other vulnerable parts of the body. Skin protection is particularly critical in paint products that contain isocyanates. The list of required protective gear includes overalls with a hood, nitrile gloves, and chemical protective goggles. All personal and respiratory protective equipment should be worn not only during spraying, but while accomplishing other tasks such as spray gun priming and gun cleaning. Removal of the gear should only be done when all the harmful substances are stored and safely put away.

Other safety guidelines

When spraying in the outdoors, the area ought to be cordoned off to other people, especially those who are not wearing protective equipment. Exposure to the spray may lead to the inhalation of harmful chemicals that could damage the internal organs. Moreover, contact with unprotected skin may also lead to irritation or hypersensitivity reactions. Unprotected persons must not be exposed to the spray, and so physical boundaries should be established so that they are at at a safe distance from the spray—about ten metres. Safety experts recommend that the minimum distance should be at least five metres from the source. The surfaces of surrounding area ought to be protected from the spray mist as well with the use of appropriate covering material.

When employing spray paint, the weather conditions should be ideal. It is not advisable to paint in windy conditions. Moreover, if dust is in the air, the activity must be rescheduled. If the ambient temperature is between 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit (10-32 degrees Celsius), the painter must monitor the surface of the vehicle to ensure that it dries satisfactorily.

Proper storage of paint spraying products

When storing paint products, one of the primary guidelines is to keep the amount stored to an absolute minimum. This is an important aspect of controlling risks. Products that contain peroxides are sealed in metal containers and kept in a separate area. All paint products are stored in a cool, dry place since exposure to the sun or to extremely high temperatures may cause the container to burst, thus leaking the contents. The paints must be stored in areas with temperatures that do not reach more 120 degrees or 48 degrees C. The storage area must also be clear of sharp objects that could puncture the paint container.

Spray paint substances are flammable. If the container is not properly sealed, the vapors may escape. If there are sources of sparks of flames nearby, the paint my combust and cause a fire. Vapors that ignite can be highly explosive and cause severe damage to property as well as injury to humans. Some of the possible sources of ignition are naked flames, heaters, grinding wheels, stoves, electric motors, and cigarette smoking. One of the best ways to prevent the accumulation of paint vapors is to ensure that the storage area is well ventilated.

Safety in the workplace should always be a priority. Therefore, protective equipment ought to be provided for everyone working with paints and spray guns. In addition, safety-oriented working practices must be instilled in every person. Health surveillance should also be provided by companies for their employees in order to detect and manage early signs and symptoms of illness due to repeated exposure to potentially hazardous paint chemicals. 


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