Sunday, December 1, 2013
Amaranth's Guide to Filter Masks Part 1
I am by no means a professional. I did some research on DoA (there are really great threads with good information there), as well as on the internet. Knowing that many people don't have access to DoA, I thought I'd do a simple hobbyist's guide to filter masks. I tried to keep it really simple and not wordy.
Here is part 1, just some basic Q & A and terms. I'll go into detail about numbers and what they mean in the next post.
What is a filter mask?
A filter mask looks like a modern gas mask. It's supposed to filter out harmful particles (even tiny ones you can't see ) and fumes (like those from sealants). Many have cartridges you can change when the filters are full, and some are disposable.
Is resin toxic?
Yes. Resin should not be ingested, whether by eating or smelling.
Are sealants toxic?
Yes, they are. Inhaling the vapors can kill brain cells and cause lots of long term health issues. There is a non toxic, non aerosol kind useable for air brushes made by Liquitex, but I know little about that. Mod Podge is probably toxic if you eat it, but if you're just applying it with a brush you should be fine. (I do not recommend Mod Podge for face ups. It's good for hooves and blushing where the blushing meets the joints.)
Why do I need a filter mask?
You don't want to get sick with anything you could have prevented by just wearing a mask. You can end up with respiratory (breathing) problems, cancers, lung issues, and more. This won't happen to you if spray a few times without a mask, but it will happen for prolonged use.
Even some popular, famous face up artists have had to wear a mask, use a spray box, and/or switch to a non-aerosol sealant to protect their health.
Do I need to use a filter mask with all sealants?
Nope, just aerosol ones. Read the back of the sealant though to be sure, and follow its instructions.
Can I spray sealant in doors without a filter mask, say in a bathroom or room with a fan on?
Absolutely not. The crap is still in the air, and can still get into your lungs even if you're holding your breath…just like air pollution. Plus, the next people to walk in could take a big whiff and get all the crap in their lungs. Think about how long it takes the hair spray smell to go away…
What about with a filter mask?
I still wouldn't, out of consideration for other people and the more time it will take the chemical to dissipate.
Can I spray sealant outside without a mask?
It's better than inside. I'm guilty of doing this rarely, and I can't stress enough how you shouldn't do this. A couple times won't kill you, but doing this too much can make you sick.
Where can I buy a good filter mask?
Many local hardware stores carry them, and often have coupons. Plus, you can ask an associate for help picking out an appropriate one.
Amazon is another good place to buy them. Just make sure to read very carefully to make sure of what you're getting.
I personally wouldn't buy a used mask, especially from ebay, but it's your choice.
Ok with that out of the way let's talk about how to choose a filter mask, and what all the different notations mean.
Vapor or Organic Vapor Filter: These are the masks that actually protect against the fumes and stuff given off by a sealant. You definitely want one that has this if you're working with spray sealants.
Particulate Filter: This means it will block all the tiny particles you can't see. You want this if you're modding, sanding, or otherwise working with resin.
Get both if you can.
The US Government has strict regulations about filter masks, and requires the companies to note the quality/strength of the mask.
Next post will have more actual information and details. Thanks for reading, see you next time!