Virtual Paint Mixing Room
Respirator Use in a Paint Mixing Room

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Even though you are not spraying in the mixing room, you breathe in harmful chemicals in coating products when you open a new can, pour paint, mix paint, or if you spill it. Therefore respirators must be worn when you are working the paint mixing room. Even if your paint mixing room is ventilated, the routine use of the proper respirators is strongly recommended for your safety, and may be mandated by provincial or local health and safety regulations.

Air purifying-type respirators with organic vapour cartridges are recommended for use in the paint room. They can be either full-face or half masks with mechanical or chemical cartridges to filter out fumes, vapours, gases, and dust. Half masks are air-purifying respirators that cover your nose, mouth, and chin. They are equipped with detachable cartridges that filter paint fumes from the air. Some are equipped with pre-filters to trap dust and mists. Full-face masks are air-purifying respirators like half masks, but with the addition of a face-piece to protect your eyes and face. If you wear glasses, this type of mask may need modification. Check with your paint supplier and/or equipment supplier to be certain you are using the correct type for your work in the paint room. Neither full or half-face air purifying respirators protect against oxygen deficiency, nor hazards not listed on the filter cartridge.

Air purifying respirators work by filtering out harmful materials when you inhale. When you exhale, a valve lets the air out and closes to prevent contaminated air from entering. There are a number of important 'best practices' to follow:

* Make sure you are using the proper filtering cartridge in your mask
* Make sure to read the label on the cartridge to know what concentration of contaminant it is designed for.
* Make sure the mask is sealed tightly to your face, especially if you have facial hair. 'Fit tests' by a safety professional or other qualified individual are required.
* Inspect your masks regularly for tears or cracks and replace damaged masks as required.
* Keep your mask clean by washing with mild detergent, and sanitize according to manufacturers instructions
* Store it in a clean, cool, dry place, and replace cartridges as recommended by manufacturer, or your shop's policy.

For more information see:

The CCOHS provides information on what type of respirator should be worn with typical paint solvents.

Best Practices for the Paint Mixing Room

The AIA's website

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has published Z94.4-93, Selection, Use and Care of Respirators. This standard has been adopted by the federal government and by most provinces. In general, this standard states criteria that must be considered in the selection of respirators.


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