Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

General Hazard: Paint Fumes

Exposures to toxic fumes and particles during painting.
Hazard Description
  • Solvents (e.g., aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, various ketones)1
    can create both health and fire hazards.
  • Pigments, anti-fouling and anti-rust paint components (e.g., organo-mercury compounds, copper oxide, arsenic, organo-tin compounds, cadmium, chromium).1
  • Types of paints used include: anti-rust paints that contain lead (e.g., red lead paint), zinc chloride primer paints, hot plastic rust preventive and anti-fouling paints, copper-bottom paints, and fire-resistant paints.
  • Ship-board painting is often performed in confined spaces and tanks, thereby concentrating fumes and particulates. In addition to health hazards, the opportunity for fires and explosions increases.
  • Lead poisoning can occur from ingestion and inhalation of lead-based paint particles. The exposure depends on the method of application; for example, rolling versus spraying. Exposure to other hazardous constituents of paints can occur in the same way.
  • For standards covering painting operations in shipbuilding and repair, see 29 CFR 1915.35.
  • Respiratory protection is provided using air-line and air-purifying respirators.
  • Mechanical air supply and exhaust are used to ventilate confined spaces and control exposures during painting operations.1,2
  • Spray nozzles can be mounted on extensions, thereby lessening exposure to paint components and improving visibility by reducing the amount of paint covering goggles and face shields.1,2
    In some situations, application using brushes may provide the most satisfactory control.2
  • Painting with lead-based paints can be done at night when other workers will not be exposed. Supplied-air respirators are often required to avoid exposure.3
    For the standard covering occupational exposures to lead, see 29 CFR 1910.1025.

1 Burgess, W. A. "Recognition of Health Hazards in Industry: A Review of Materials and Processes." Wiley- Interscience (1981).

2 Patty's Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, Vol II. 1978.

3 Haglind, O. "Occupational health in the shipbuilding industry." Safety and Health in Shipbuilding and Ship Repair. Geneva: International Labour Office, 1972.

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