Frequently Asked Questions

Please click on the question below to see the answer.

Structural Repair: Welding

Bronchitis, airway irritation, other respiratory illnesses, lung cancer and nervous system damage, arc welder's siderosis, metal fume fever and infertility.collapse
Fever, chills, headache, nausea, shortness of breath, muscle pain and a metallic taste in the mouth.collapse
Wear leather gloves, a jacket, welder's helmet and a respirator with an appropriate cartridge and have good ventilation.collapse
During welding, some of the metal vaporizes and condenses in the air. Metal fume is this smoke you see when welding.collapse
The metal particles in metal fumes are easily inhaled deep into your lungs. They cause irritation and eventually lung disease.collapse
Yes, if you eat, drink, smoke or take medication anywhere in the area of the fumes, the metals can end up in your blood.collapse
Old paint may contain lead, chromium or other toxic metals. When heated, the metals in the paint can vaporize and you breathe them. This is why it is important to grind off the paint and weld on bare metal surfaces.collapse
No, a welder's helmet protects your eyes from harmful radiation and sparks but does not protect you from breathing dangerous metal fumes.collapse
Any half-mask respirator that can filter out small particles. Such respirators usually have 'HEPA' or 'N100' or 'P100' filter designation.collapse
Hazardous gases are produced when welding, particularly ozone and nitrogen oxides which are irritating to your breathing passages. The more you weld, the more gases are produced. Ventilation can help get rid of these gases.collapse
No, just make sure your shop has good general dilution ventilationcollapse
The shop must have very good general ventilation. In addition, a local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system consisting of a hood and flexible duct is recommended.collapse
The shop can ensure that there is adequate ventilation such as local exhaust ventilation and general dilution ventilation, and have personal protective equipment available.collapse

Structural Repair: Grinding

Grinding dust may contain abrasive particles from sandpaper, lead and chromium (often found in old paint).collapse
Wear coveralls, eye protection (safety glasses or goggles), gloves and a respirator. Wear a faceshield, safety glasses and leather gloves when performing extensive grinding.collapse

Surface Preparation: Body Filling (bondo)

Surface filler materials contain a chemical called styrene, which can irritate your respiratory passages and is linked to cancer at high levels. Also, the catalysts used in fillers can cause skin rashes before they are cured.collapse
Always wear gloves when working with filler. When mixing and applying filler, especially for big jobs, a respirator with organic vapor cartridges is recommended. If working with large quantities of filler, work in a well-ventilated area.collapse

Surface Preparation: Sanding

Sanding produces a lot of fine dust particles, which when inhaled could be irritating to breathing passages and your eyes. The dust may also contains metals, such as lead and chromium, and abrasive particles (from the sanding disks) that are harmful to your health.collapse
Through inhalation (breathing) and ingestion (eating). Dust particles from sanding can easily stick to your hands and face. If not washed off, they contaminate food, drinks and cigarettes.collapse
A respirator with HEPA filter and gloves should be worn.collapse
Wearing coveralls keeps the dust off your street clothes or uniforms. Removing the coveralls immediately after sanding will minimize your exposure and prevent the dust from being spread all over the shop, potentially exposing others.collapse
Thoroughly wash your hands and face with soap and water. Don't wear dusty coveralls or clothing into the restroom or the lunch room. Put on clean clothes before heading home.collapse
Thoroughly wash your hands and face after sanding. Don't wear dusty coveralls or clothing into your car. Put on clean clothes before heading home. This is especially important if you have children, because children are more affected by the chemicals in the dust, especially the lead.collapse
Use wet sanding whenever possible and dry sand with a locally-exhausted (LEV) sander.collapse
A ventilated sander has holes on the sanding plate which are connected to a vacuum. The sanding disks must also have holes at the same locations. Dust is captured, pulled through the holes and exhausted by the vacuum.collapse
They reduce the amount of dust released in autobody shops by 90%. This protects the worker who is sanding and also decreases the time and cost of housekeeping.collapse

Painting Tasks: Mixing Paint

Wear nitrile gloves, eye protection (goggles or safety glasses), and a respirator with organic vapor cartridges or use a well-ventilated mixing station. Clean contaminated surfaces or drips when finished.collapse
Work as close to the hood as possible so all the fumes will go into the hood.collapse
 Yes, as long as the vents are set up to draw the fumes away from the painter's face.collapse

Painting Tasks: Spray Painting

Most auto paints are mixed with a hardener that contains a type of chemical called isocyanate, which is very reactive. This is what makes the paint have a hard finish and resist fading. However, isocyanates also react with parts of our body when we inhale it and can make us ill. Auto paints also contain solvents.collapse
When you spray paint, solvents evaporate and small droplets of paint are released into the air. Workers may then inhale these harmful vapors and particles.collapse
Wear respiratory protection, nitrile gloves, tyvek or nylon coveralls with a hood, and goggles.collapse
A supplied air respirator (SAR) or powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) is preferred for spray painting.collapse
No, it protects the paint job and the workers nearby.collapse
  1. Make sure the booth is operating correctly by checking the air pressure gauge - the gauge should tell if it is necessary to change the exhaust filters.
  2. Minimize overspray by aiming the spray gun at right angles to the surface being coated and spray from 6 inches away from the surface to be painted. A high volume low pressure (HVLP) spray gun will minimize overspray.
  3. Wear respiratory protection, gloves, goggles and coveralls.
  4. Never remove respiratory protection until you have left the booth.
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Prime in a prep station using nitrile gloves, respiratory protection and ventilation - make sure the air is blowing away from you and others.collapse

Painting Tasks: Gun Cleaning

In gun cleaning, you use solvents to get the isocyanate-containing paint off your gun. You need a respirator with organic vapor cartridges to protect you from breathing the solvents; you need nitrile gloves to keep the isocyanates off your hands - and solvents too if not immersed; and a paint suit will keep the paint and solvents off other exposed skin and your street clothes.collapse
The solvent may look clear, but it can actually contain isocyanates which get concentrated each time a gun is cleaned. When tested with testing strips, the recycled solvent can show very high levels of isocyanates. In addition, the solvents can easily enter your body through the skin and can cause severe dermatitis by drying your skin.collapse
Cleaning the gun by hand puts a lot more solvent into the air for you - and other workers - to breathe, whereas the machine is a closed system, keeping the vapors inside. Some shops have a system for doing a first rinse by hand, then using the machine to complete the cleaning. This can be effective, but only if you keep the cover closed on the container of waste solvent!collapse

PPE: Respirators

It depends upon what you are doing. If you are spray painting in a booth, you get the most protection from a supplied air respirator (SAR) or powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR). Any other spraying, you should use a cartridge respirator with organic vapor cartridges and paint pads. Organic vapor cartridge respirators should also be used when working with fumes, such as applying bondo or gun cleaning. A cartridge respirator with HEPA (N100) cartridges works well for dry sanding, welding and grinding. Some dusty tasks, such as sweeping, can be done with an N95 dust mask.collapse
Organic vapor cartridges are needed when you are protecting against vapors and gases, and HEPA (N100) or N95 cartridges/dust masks filter out particles and dust.collapse
HEPA (N100) cartridges are best for any dry sanding of paint or bondo and for welding or grinding. Organic vapor cartridges are needed for application of bondo and gun cleaning. An organic vapor cartridge with N95 paint pad is preferred for all spray painting (including priming).collapse
Each worker should test his respirator for fit at least once a year, and again if anything changes, such as growing a beard, using a new type of respirator, gaining weight, etc.collapse
Respirators should be cleaned at the end of the day. The respirator should be cleaned according to the manufacturer's instructions. All parts should be rinsed after washing and allowed to air dry before being put back together.collapse
Respirators should be stored once they are dry in sealed plastic bags, and should be placed in a safe place where they will not be crushed or deformed.collapse

Read more about respirators…
Watch the 3 videos on Respiratory Protection…

PPE: Gloves

For certain tasks it is absolutely necessary! Some chemicals go right through your skin into your body. In addition, you can get isocyanates, paints, solvents and dust on your hands and then contaminate everything you touch in the shop, such as your food, drink, cigarettes, etc. and bring it home to your family.collapse
Remove and replace your gloves after each use and if they become contaminated. The longer the glove comes in contact with solvents, the more solvents will go through and even dissolve the glove. A ripped glove doesn't protect you.collapse
Nitrile gloves are recommended for all paint-related work.collapse
Most latex gloves will allow isocyanate to pass through to your skin. Nitrile gloves are better at protecting your skin.collapse
Gloves are necessary because the isocyanates in the fresh paint might not be completely cured for days or even weeks. Touching the paint could lead to respiratory problems.collapse

Health Hazards: Solvents

The solvents hold resins and pigments in liquid form so they can be applied evenly to surfaces.collapse
By breathing them in and by direct contact with your skin.collapse
Headache, dizziness, "feeling high", defatting/drying of skin, sleepiness.collapse
Wear gloves and long sleeves to keep solvents off your skin. Wear a respirator so you don't breathe in the solvents.collapse
Mix in a well ventilated area.collapse
The ingredients will be listed on the product label and in the MSDS - the Material Safety Data Sheets.collapse
Gloves!collapse
No gloves will protect from every solvent. Some gloves can be dissolved by some solvents; some solvents will pass through certain types of gloves. In a body shop, nitrile gloves are your best protection against isocyanates in hardeners and offer pretty good protection against most solvents.collapse
Remove and replace your gloves after each use and if they become contaminated. The longer a glove is in contact with solvent, the more the solvent will penetrate and even dissolve the glove.collapse
Select a thicker glove that is resistant to the solvent.collapse

Health Hazards: Isocyanates and Asthma

Isocyanates are a group of very reactive chemicals found in paint hardeners. They cross-link to form a polyurethane finish which is why they are used in clear coats.collapse
Isocyanates can cause people to become sensitized and some may develop asthma.collapse
A serious debilitating respiratory disease. Asthma is a disease that involves the airway systems and the lung. It becomes difficult to move air in and out of the lungs.collapse
Wheezing, pressure, shortness of breath and cough. Asthma is sometimes difficult to diagnose, so it is important to tell your doctor that you work with isocyanates.collapse
By inhalation and by skin contact.collapse
Spraying paint or primer, mixing paint with hardeners, cleaning the spray gun, wet or dry sanding fresh paint, compounding and polishing.collapse
Yes, you can bring shop contamination to your car and your home on your clothes. Changing out of your work clothes before you come home is a good way to prevent exposing others to isocyanates.collapse