The main hazard when spray painting is the paint itself. Because marine paint is a mixture of pigments, solvents, and other additives, the spray consists of aerosols, vapors, and mists. Depending on the type of spray gun, pressure, and nebulizer, various airborne contaminant concentrations are produced in and around the person applying the paint.
To prevent inhalation of the component mixture, a combination high efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) and organic vapor respirator is recommended. Some paints contain additives such as isocyanates that require use of an air-supplied respirator due to individual sensitivity, irritation, and reactivity. In many cases, individual threshold limit values (TLVs) are set for specific vapors and solvents. These exposure values and guidelines may require exposure monitoring to determine the appropriate respirator selection based on respirator protection factors. To assure proper fit and comfort, respirator fit testing is required.
In addition, paint can come in contact with unprotected skin and other body surfaces. To provide adequate protection, wear protective clothing that resists penetration. Check the paint manufacturer's safety data sheet (SDS) for the list of components in order to select appropriate protective clothing. Since all clothing is not impervious to permeation, and contaminated clothing should not be reused, wear clothing that can be disposed of after use.
One final, but unlikely hazard of spraying paint is the potential for oral ingestion of paints that are sprayed in work shops, garages, and other rooms where food is present. Eating or drinking should never be permitted in areas where spraying is being done.
The two primary occupational diseases associated with paint spray operations are painter's asthma and dermatitis. Aside from the chemical hazards of paints, another concern is the potential risk of fire from the solvents used in spraying applications. To prevent the possibility of ignition and explosion, pay careful attention to storage and housing of paints and their solvents. Typically, paint spraying applications are performed in a ventilated area.
Spraying applications can take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours, depending on the size of the product being painted. Minimize the risk of heat by wearing lightweight, disposable clothing that breathes, yet is chemically resistant to solvents.
Spray painting can be done safely with minimal risk and exposure to hazardous components in paints following these recommended practices.
- Review a copy of the paint manufacturer's SDS. Check those sections related specifically to recommendations for personal protective equipment.
- All spray painting operations should be done in well-ventilated areas equipped with breathing air lines for respirators. Respirator selection and use should be based on a hazard assessment of the components in the paint and protection factors required. Fit testing and training must be provided and documented for regulatory compliance.
- Prevent skin exposure and contamination of work clothes by wearing lightweight, disposable protective clothing. This lightweight clothing will also eliminate potential heat stress and fatigue associated with the burden of wearing protective equipment. Select clothing based on the chemical resistance guides for solvent breakthrough and permeation.
- Provide separate areas for keeping personal protective equipment, paint supplies, and food respectively. This will eliminate contamination and the potential fire hazards in paints with flammable solvents.