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Airbrushing Safety

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  • Member since
    March, 2018
Airbrushing Safety
Posted by Pads on Thursday, April 26, 2018 5:12 AM

Hi All,

I'm new to the modelling world and have been airbrushing my new kit and am loving the results.  Because I have young kids I don't get to spend great amount of time modelling, 1/2 hr here an hr there... I was spraying for about an hr the other night and started to become aware of the paint smell in the room, it's not well ventilated which isn't great I know but in terms of safety, what's acceptable for airbrushing?

I'm airbrushing Tamiya acrylic paints, I don't have a spray booth and to be honest, it's not practical for me right now in terms of space etc.  With this type of paint am I safe using a standard dust mask or do I need something a bit more serious? 

Thanks All,




  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Thursday, April 26, 2018 9:13 AM

While I do have a nice spray booth, I do not use it for airbrushing. I only use the booth for rattle cans.  I do my airbrushing right at my building bench.  I just move away everything near the front of the bench.  I think the secret to airbrushing at your bench is keeping the paint flow low.  Think of an airbrush as a brush that creates painted finish with no brush marks, rather than it being a miniature spray gun.  Slow movement of the brush, low flow rate, close distance from brush to model surface, and thinned mixture can make a great finish, though it does take more time than using the airbrush as a spray can.

I use mostly enamels and lacquers, and have never been bothered by fumes.  I get very little overspray- most paint goes on part or model I am spraying.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    January, 2013
Posted by BlackSheepTwoOneFour on Thursday, April 26, 2018 9:45 AM

There are spraybooths you can buy with exhaust built in.

This is what I use:


As far as Tamiya goes, they're acrylics, not enamels. Enamels do give off a stronger smell than acrylics. If you have a dedicated room for airbrushing, there's no reason for the smell seeping out throughout your home.


  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by bluenote on Thursday, April 26, 2018 10:23 AM

I'll be honest, I usually open a window and have a little fan on high speed right on my desk and that works just fine to get the smell out.  

I even do this for rattle cans.  I don't sit at my desk spraying for 10 mins or anything.  It's usually under a minute.  For instance, if I'm spraying a car body with a spray can, it'll take me about 30 secs to a minute, and I have my mask on, fan at high speed and window open, and it's fine.  

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Thursday, April 26, 2018 11:08 AM

Spray cans are probably worse case. I always go outside with them. Just make a carry-box, warm the can inside, and come back in with the model once the clouds clear.

With the A/B, the worst is spraying lacquer thinner. That just can't happen without good positive ventilation and filters.

A/B with other mineral spirits, really needs ventilation.

Acrylics are not harmless.

Worry about your cats. Their lungs are tiny. Your kids, other adults and then and only then be loose with your own health.

  • Member since
    February, 2011
Posted by Reasoned on Thursday, April 26, 2018 10:08 PM

My advice, unless you're totally set on enamels and have the proper venalation/mask, go with an acrylic paint.  Having used enamels in a less than ideal environment, would strongly caution anyone from using them.

Science is the pursiut of knowledge, faith is the pursuit of wisdom.  Peace be with you.

On the Tarmac: 1/48 Revell P-38

In the Hanger: A bunch of kits

  • Member since
    January, 2013
Posted by BlackSheepTwoOneFour on Friday, April 27, 2018 10:31 AM

I’ve spray paint with rattle can in my cellar before.


  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by bluenote on Friday, April 27, 2018 12:14 PM


I’ve spray paint with rattle can in my cellar before.



I think this is fine if you have fans going, window open, etc.  Usually with rattle cans you're only spraying for a minute or two.  If you're spraying for half an hour with no windows open or fans then perhaps you're looking for trouble!

  • Member since
    April, 2006
  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Friday, April 27, 2018 1:31 PM

I'd suggest any type of paint you spray, whether it be from a can or an airbrush, to obtain a proper mask that stops paint particles from being enhaled into your lungs. 

I'm still surprised that people continue to think if the smell is not strong, then it must be less harmful, or worse, not harmful at all.  It's the paint droplets (looks like a fine mist in the air) that still can do harm.  The effects are cumulative, so no, you won't feel sick that day, but over time it is a different matter...



  • Member since
    March, 2018
Posted by Pads on Saturday, April 28, 2018 12:57 AM

Thanks, that's what I thought.  I think the general gist of what people are saying is that enamels and spray cans are the worst, acrylic, not so bad and for short periods probably ok with good ventilation etc.  I think you're absolutely right though, cumulative use may cause harm so not worth scrimping.  I think I'll get a mask of somekind which should keep those particles out of my lungs.  


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