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  • Member since
    January, 2018
Posted by CutSandGlueRepeat on Friday, November 02, 2018 3:25 PM

Good afternoon,

I have recently begun airbrushing and it is great! I am loving it so far! I just completed my first kit with an airbrush which was an Airfix 1:72 Wildcat. I am now working on my second kit with my airbrush: Tamiya's 1:32 Spitfire MkXVIe. 

That all said, I have a "disposable" respirator I use for spraying, but wanted to get thoughts on a more permanent option. Preferably something where I only have to replace the filters, not the whole mask. I am using a 3M mask (I am at work so not sure which mask tpye offhand) and it works fine. I am in an apartment so most of my spraying is done on the outside balcony in the fresh air, but I 'd prefer a little more protection for myself from the fumes and particles since it is fairly enclosed. So what type do you recommend?

All responses greatly appreciated!

  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Friday, November 02, 2018 5:58 PM

This link:

Will take you to a very comprehensive guide.

As to which. it's down to what the solvent/thinner you are using is.  With enamel paints, where you are using tolulene, mineral spirits, etc., as a thinner/paint base, you want a a magenta (fine particulate) plus green or olive (volitile vapor) filter element.

For "water based" acrylics (the thinners use isopropyl alcohol and the like) you can get by with a Magenta plus Black (orgainc vapors).

All that being said, if you are in a reasonably well-ventilated room, you are not a great risk.  Using compressed air, or even nitrogen, as a propellant for the airbrush probably is better for you than using one of the propellant cans (often a refrigerant).  Even CO2 is a reasonably good propellant, as long as you are not in an airtight room.

  • Member since
    May, 2013
  • From: Indiana, USA
Posted by Greg on Friday, November 02, 2018 7:17 PM

Excellent advice. Yes


  • Member since
    August, 2012
  • From: Parker City, IN.
Posted by Rambo on Friday, November 02, 2018 7:46 PM
I use a organic vapor/particulate respirator from 3M and replace the filters once per year or if I start tasting paint. I'm also using a homemade spray booth that draws very well. I have to wear one at my job a few times a week when I change out my 250gal hydrofluoric acid tank. I have to take a fit test and a lung capacity test every year, the number one thing if your wearing it wrong and can feel air escaping around the mask when you do your positive and negative pressure test, well then it just defeats the purpose of wearing it.


  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Friday, November 02, 2018 11:43 PM

I use compressed air from a compressor (imagine that), running some acrylics, some mineral thinner paints and some lacquers. I do it all in a fairly high volume booth, with the great outdoors at my back.

I've given up on masks, my rate of exposure is low.

IMO the biggest health concern is for those of us with small lungs like babies and cats. Or kids and dogs. If the painting is in an enclosed room, and the booth isnt taking all of the fumes through a filter and outside, wearing a mask is ok but the rest of th family will suffer. Better to have a really positive ventilation system running.

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Saturday, November 03, 2018 6:26 AM

I have a problem with dust masks when I am modeling with wood.  I am allergic to most woods, and when I wear a mask I cannot wear one and wear my closeup-reading-cheaters at the same time.  The glasses fog up and I cannot clearly see what I am doing.  I guess I need to get something better than those cheap 3M dust masks.  Yesterday I was cutting with my band saw.  I had the choice of seeing the lines clearly with my cheaters on, or being able to breath.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Saturday, November 03, 2018 12:41 PM

I've been around some ugly wood, so I well understand your suffering.  If more from contact dermitius than breathing allergy (wearing a tyvek hoodie in Texas in summer has little to recommend it).

Go and check out some of the newer 3m half-face masks.  Take the readers and/or an optivisor to check for fit.  If the local big box joint does not have something useable, go find and industria safety shop.  You might wind up paying 2x price over the big orange or big blue store, the gear will fit, and you will be able to both breathe and see.

One alternative might be a "powered" hood.  These are spendy, but allow wearing of all sorts of eyewear.  The rig uses a belt-mounted motor blowing filtered air into a full head hood.

As a short-term solution, I know a fellow who puts a sub-ideal cheap single action a/b to use as a 5-10psi sawdust blower fro scroll & band saws.  Much use of a clamp-on magnifying glass, too.

  • Member since
    January, 2018
Posted by CutSandGlueRepeat on Monday, November 26, 2018 1:20 PM

Thank you for the replies everyone. I appreciate the tips and hopefully I will get the right items I need once the spring arrives and I can resume my airbrushing. 


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