What mask should I use for mulling pigments?ApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
Question asked 2017-08-08 17:06:40 ...
Most recent comment 2017-08-09 15:19:08
Health and Safety
I will be mulling pigment and making paint for the first time and I want to be safe, what mask do you recommend me to buy (pigments might include vermilion, lead tin yellow, and azurite)
Answers and Comments
Great question....we have a bit of information about masks in our health and safety document which can be found in the resources section here. The N-series is what you should likely use....you can find such masks at Lowes, Home Depot, etc. and even online of course. I will also reach out to some of our health and safety experts on this as well. Also remember to wear goggles and to dispose of residue properly!
If using a respirator when working with pigments, you should be using a HEPA also called a P100 particulate filter. It's the SIZE of the pigment particles (not the type) that determines the type of filter you need (You'll also see 99 and 95 rated filters, but they won't provide enough protection). P100 filters are the best option since the N100 and R100 have time and material restrictions. You probably will recognize the pink/magenta color of HEPA masks. N and R are cheaper but you have to be aware of whether you'd have oil particulates present (need to use R) and that you only use them for 8 hours and then they must be discarded.
If you are using chemicals along with your pigments (e.g., turpentine) you'll need the appropriate chemical respirator as well (there are combo chemical/particle respirators available).
However, many pigments are ground so finely that even a HEPA-filtered respirator will not trap all the particles. For that reason, and all the other hazards that are associated with working with pigments (see below), the best and safest practice would be mulling the pigments (or at least the handling of the dry pigments) in a glove box or bag (a sealed enclosure that you just stick your hands into).
Breathing in the pigments is just one of the hazards of mulling. The following is abbreviated from "The Artist's Complete Health and Safety Guide" (p 112-113).
- Not only can the particles be inhaled but they easily cross-contaminate other surfaces, so proper hygiene is import (hand washing, not eating or drinking in work areas).
- You should be wearing gloves and other protective equipment that are used only for that purpose (don't leave the studio with them on) and can be removed once contaminated.
- Work on easy to clean surfaces and wet clean surfaces--pigments can be so small that they are not collected with HEPA vacuums.
- Check with your local hazardous waste centers and see how everything must be disposed of as hazardous waste.
- If you're using a lot of heavy metal pigments regularly, it would be wise to have yourself tested for exposure (at least once a year).
- Also, finely powdered metallic pigments (like aluminum and bronze) can be flammable and explosive.
Thanks Kerith! This is why we have health and saftey experts on our board :)
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