Health & Safety

Check out the following information on:

  • Acetone and liver damage
  • CA allergies
The following is a newsgroup posting from someone concerned about the effects of acetone and liver damage...

Just a quickie about using any of the super distillates like acetone, benzene, even propyl and yes, methyl alcohol: these compounds, while fairly simple molecules compared to modern sophisticated toxins like plastics (PVC, etc.), are still very dangerous to us, especially as modellers since we use them a lot. We all know that being around these fumes is irritating to exterior organs like skin, eyes, lungs, etc. (brain ;-) But what is not mentioned very often is the effects they have internally.

Skin is very permeable, and readily soaks in solvents like acetone, which then go to the liver for removal from the blood, and even in relatively low concentrations can cause irreversible damage to the liver. The liver is our most important organ after the heart and it's power supply (brain). It is so important that it will continue to function normally until nearly 90% of it has been destroyed (by toxins) at which time you are REALLY up the creek! Just because the miracle wisdom of the body prevents you from feeling any effects from an acetone hand bath now (while your liver still has excess capacity to filter) doesn't mean there is no effect. You will feel it later when you really need that liver at 100%, like when fighting off a serious illness (Let me hear that balsa wood knocking!)

Moral: PLEASE use solvent PROOF gloves when handling these substances (latex will melt). And use overkill to the max for ventilation, like a fan blowing while outside! Be especially careful with chemicals that are used frequently, like glow fuel and even epoxy glue whose fumes are more toxic than polyester resin. Remember the old tales about blind and impotent from drinking the wrong brew? Don't let raw fuel contact your skin if you can help it, and if some does, wipe it quick before it all soaks in, then rinse it with water. Too bad ethanol isn't very good (as a fuel, that is... ;-) because it is harmless (in moderation, as my father says...)

I would be happy to provide some reading references if anyone actually gets this far through my boring post! I thank you for reading this, you guys are way too valuable to risk to chance! Knowledge is power.

Rich Hollyday ( Raleigh, NC

A few postings from people affected by CA allergies...

> > I have Asthma, and have to stay away from all CA types. I used
> > to use it regularly, with only the accelerator bothering me, but
> > aftergetting back into modeling after 8+ years away, I can't go near
> > the CA. I am in search of other glues that I can use for modeling
> > (fast drying and strong), or else I will have to by a respirator (3M
> > gasmask type). Any suggestions?

> > Joe Klemencic

> Asthma and isocyanate sensitivity are two different things. I don't have
> asthma, but I can't tolerate cyanoacryalte glues-they make my lungs
> close up. I buy the odorless CA glues. They are more expensive, but
> won't bother your lungs. Alternatively, purchase any organic vapor mask.
> It is important that you specify that it is for organic vapors.

> H McCollister

I have had a similar experience to other people in this thread, a
hypersensitivity to fumes from CA. Since I'm currently in medical school
I have the luxury of access to current medical literature on the subject.
The asthma-like condition that several people have described is
documented, along with several cases of skin irritation akin to a case of
poison ivy. Both situations are immune responses to the glue. The
different manifestations are due to the route of exposure to the
immunogenic substance. Inhaled glue fumes may lead to bronchial
irritation in susceptible individuals, and over time the development of an
asthma-like bronchoconstriction. Skin exposure in particular individuals
leads eventually to a rash.

The solution to both problems is preventing exposure, ie. make sure
that you have adequate ventilation and wear gloves (if you get rashes).
As for me I found that my symptoms, runny nose, watery eyes, and on
prolonged exposure, wheezing, all subsided by stopping work and taking a
Benadryl (over-the-counter antihistamine). Recently I bought a vapor mask
designed for spray-paint fumes at Home Depot. It was reasonably priced
and completely prevented the onset of my symptoms. The key point to
remember from this thread is to take proper precautions when working with
potential irritants in small, closed spaces. Provide good ventilation,
wear a mask that can absorb chemical fumes, and don't hesitate to take a
break if you're not feeling right. Take precautions and don't let such a
problem keep you from modeling.

Chris Gamper,


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