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Airbrushing acrylics safely


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Hey all,

 

I haven't used my airbrush in a while and I'd really like to use it for a lot of my miniatures. I've been avoiding it for a bit because I've been worried about the paint particles. I airbrush in an area that isn't used by others at home but it's not a separate room. I keep the windows open and turn on a standing fan so hopefully all the gunk in the air is moved out. Is this safe?  I'm only airbrushing acrylics. Would I need to get a spray booth with filter?

 

Your help would be really appreciated, hoping you all are well. 

 

 

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A spray booth is optimal with a hose to vent out the window if that's an option. At the least you want a really good respirator. Even with fans and careful control there will be more paint in the air than you realize.  

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In a word, yes. And you should wear a mask as well and not some little sanding mask but a full on respirator style with replaceable filters. A booth will really help contain the overspray and a good one will have a fan that you can also vent out the window. If you don’t use a booth use a box, otherwise you will find slight misting of your paint on everything within 3-4’. You wear a mask because even with a spray booth some of those particles will get reflected back at you. Even more with just a box. There are a lot of DIY plans out there if you take a look on the net.

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It's also worth keeping in mind that not all acrylics are the same. With some, like Reaper and (most) Vallejo, you only really need to worry about the paint particles. With others, like Tamiya, you also need to worry about the vapors.

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4 hours ago, Heisler said:

but a full on respirator style with replaceable filters.

Out of sheer curiosity, any recommendations for filters?  Are the pink pancakes enough for acrylics (2091 or 2097's from 3M), or do you suggest a more thorough approach with pre-filters and 6001 organic vapour cartidges?

 

Any benefits to P95 (oil proof) versus N95 pre-filters with regards to using acrylics?

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6 hours ago, WhiteWulfe said:

Out of sheer curiosity, any recommendations for filters?  Are the pink pancakes enough for acrylics (2091 or 2097's from 3M), or do you suggest a more thorough approach with pre-filters and 6001 organic vapour cartidges?

 

Any benefits to P95 (oil proof) versus N95 pre-filters with regards to using acrylics?

 

The pink are fine for the dust from paints like Reaper. Airbrush cleaners are more questionable so you'd have to check the SDS for the specific one you use. Any of the acrylics that contain solvents, like Tamiya, need the organic vapour cartridges. If you add solvents as a thinner to a paint like Reaper you'd need the organic vapour cartridge. In general checking the sds should tell you which type of filter to use if it's a paint that's meant to be sprayed. If it's not a paint that's meant for an airbrush you might have to dig deeper to be sure. P vs N shouldn't matter unless you're doing something like using an airbrush to spray your cast iron with canola.

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46 minutes ago, cmorse said:

 

The pink are fine for the dust from paints like Reaper. Airbrush cleaners are more questionable so you'd have to check the SDS for the specific one you use. Any of the acrylics that contain solvents, like Tamiya, need the organic vapour cartridges. If you add solvents as a thinner to a paint like Reaper you'd need the organic vapour cartridge. In general checking the sds should tell you which type of filter to use if it's a paint that's meant to be sprayed. If it's not a paint that's meant for an airbrush you might have to dig deeper to be sure. P vs N shouldn't matter unless you're doing something like using an airbrush to spray your cast iron with canola.

Good to know.  I'll just err on the side of caution and get the 6001's and N95 pre-filters then, especially since some of my thinners have harsher stuff in them (like Createx 4011 Reducer). 

 

You only get one pair of lungs, and I already get enough questions every time I'm in radiology (yay lungs that show up like a three pack a day smoker for over a decade on xrays), and the operators always look rather confused when I answer that I don't smoke.. 

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I can't speak for paints other than Badger or Reaper, but I use the same thing for thinning that I do for cleaning, which is a mixture of distilled water and isopropyl alcohol. Hope that helps.

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11 hours ago, WhiteWulfe said:

Good to know.  I'll just err on the side of caution and get the 6001's and N95 pre-filters then, especially since some of my thinners have harsher stuff in them (like Createx 4011 Reducer). 

 

You only get one pair of lungs, and I already get enough questions every time I'm in radiology (yay lungs that show up like a three pack a day smoker for over a decade on xrays), and the operators always look rather confused when I answer that I don't smoke.. 

 

The SDS says N95 are fine for Createx 4011. Though being safer certainly won't hurt you it also won't really help you if you aren't using something that the 6001 is meant to block. Things that don't actually turn into vapors and specifically organic vapors aren't to care about the active carbon in a 6001. If you aren't using something that gives off organic vapors, which in mini painting usually means volatile solvents, it won't actually give any extra protection.

 

5 hours ago, Loim said:

I can't speak for paints other than Badger or Reaper, but I use the same thing for thinning that I do for cleaning, which is a mixture of distilled water and isopropyl alcohol. Hope that helps.

 

As soon as you add something like isopropyl you are in the organic vapor category.

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49 minutes ago, cmorse said:

The SDS says N95 are fine for Createx 4011. Though being safer certainly won't hurt you it also won't really help you if you aren't using something that the 6001 is meant to block. Things that don't actually turn into vapors and specifically organic vapors aren't to care about the active carbon in a 6001. If you aren't using something that gives off organic vapors, which in mini painting usually means volatile solvents, it won't actually give any extra protection.

Hence why the mention of the N95 pre-filters, aka 3M's 5N11 pre-filters that are held onto the 6001 cartridges with the 501 filter retainer.

 

2097's are tempting though because they're cheaper, aren't three parts, and are easier to breathe through, but would still provide protection when cleaning out the airbrush (as well as obviously while airbrushing).  The only thing that bugs me about those is their recommended change intervals are a lot shorter.

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1 hour ago, WhiteWulfe said:

Hence why the mention of the N95 pre-filters, aka 3M's 5N11 pre-filters that are held onto the 6001 cartridges with the 501 filter retainer.

 

2097's are tempting though because they're cheaper, aren't three parts, and are easier to breathe through, but would still provide protection when cleaning out the airbrush (as well as obviously while airbrushing).  The only thing that bugs me about those is their recommended change intervals are a lot shorter.

 

2097s are what I use, mostly due to getting a big pack of them on sale. They aren't really full on organic vapor protection, only nuisance level. It's carbon filter's main purpose is to eliminate smells, not actually protect you. After it's thin carbon filter stops working they still function normally as a particulate filter, so you don't really need to worry about the change interval relative to other particulate filters from a safety perspective. Again though it really depends what you're actually spraying. If you need organic vapor protection they are a bad replacement for 6001s.

 

None of the cleaners or thinners I have actually give off organic vapors, so adding in a 6001 wouldn't add any benefit, just hassle and expense. Using a 6001 without a clear purpose can also lead to false security thinking it covers everything. For example, some people clean their airbrushes with cleaners that contain ammonia or even add those cleaners to their paint. A 6001 gives no protection from ammonia vapors. If using a 6001 with a prefilter (so many people just use 6001s with no particulate filter at all...) means assuming you're covered and not checking a specific product's sds it's a bad choice. Using the right filter for what you actually need is usually the best option since it means you've figured out what the right filter is. 

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39 minutes ago, cmorse said:

 

2097s are what I use, mostly due to getting a big pack of them on sale. They aren't really full on organic vapor protection, only nuisance level. It's carbon filter's main purpose is to eliminate smells, not actually protect you. After it's thin carbon filter stops working they still function normally as a particulate filter, so you don't really need to worry about the change interval relative to other particulate filters from a safety perspective. Again though it really depends what you're actually spraying. If you need organic vapor protection they are a bad replacement for 6001s.

 

None of the cleaners or thinners I have actually give off organic vapors, so adding in a 6001 wouldn't add any benefit, just hassle and expense. Using a 6001 without a clear purpose can also lead to false security thinking it covers everything. For example, some people clean their airbrushes with cleaners that contain ammonia or even add those cleaners to their paint. A 6001 gives no protection from ammonia vapors. If using a 6001 with a prefilter (so many people just use 6001s with no particulate filter at all...) means assuming you're covered and not checking a specific product's sds it's a bad choice. Using the right filter for what you actually need is usually the best option since it means you've figured out what the right filter is. 

It's hard to tell since Iwata hides so much of their info behind "proprietary blend", but I'm guessing that since nothing is mentioned in the SDS other than eye protection.

 

Now to just decide between the 6000 and 7500 half mask, and whether or not that extra $10 is worth it for someone who wears glasses (or if there's an insane difference in comfort... >.<

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2 hours ago, WhiteWulfe said:

It's hard to tell since Iwata hides so much of their info behind "proprietary blend", but I'm guessing that since nothing is mentioned in the SDS other than eye protection.

 

Now to just decide between the 6000 and 7500 half mask, and whether or not that extra $10 is worth it for someone who wears glasses (or if there's an insane difference in comfort... >.<

 

If it had something that required a 6001 it would show up in the sds. They can hide the exact ingredients, but they aren't allowed to hide if something requires specific safety measures. It does say "Breathing dust or mist may irritate the nose and throat." Dust and mist are both in the realm of particle filters rather than vapor filters. Another indicator is that many of the things that need a 6001 will have a picture of a flame on the bottle. You should still check the SDS, but most of the solvents used in paint that give off organic vapors are kinda flammable. 

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