Downdraft Tables

Art Restoration Solvents Could Cause Health Risks for Workers

Anyone who works in the art restoration industry knows that the work they perform takes a delicate touch and fumes or airborne contaminants from the chemicals used during this process could endanger not only the worker, but also the art.

Since certain pieces of artwork need to be preserved at the highest standard so the object, artifact or painting can last for as long as possible, art restorers must use different solvents and thinners to get pieces looking their best. According to Art Sparx, a solvent can break down paint and varnish components to successfully get colors and surfaces to look like they were just painted.

Dust, moisture, and other factors all can turn artwork into ruined or damaged pieces if they are not properly restored over the years. Eventually, artwork on any sort of canvas or paper will begin to lose its color without the right solvents, the source reported.

Art Restoration Solvents Can Cause Serious Side Effects

When solvents are exposed to the human body, such as on-hand and eyes or inhaled, serious health risks are a concern if the art restoration process is not performed in a well-controlled air environment. According to an article from L. Dei, P. Baglioni, and G. Sarti, titled “Aging Effects on Ammonium Carbonate/Acetone Solutions and Cleaning Works of Art,” ammonium carbonate solutions are the most popular methods to clean specific pieces of artwork.

“By applying this solution to the surface with cotton wool, wood pulp or paper poultices, it is possible to remove many kinds of dirt,’ for example, soot, present on works of art such as wall paintings, marble, and stone,” the report stated. “Generally speaking, cleaning with these aqueous solutions is not sufficient and restorers, therefore, use organic solvents to remove water-insoluble impurities.”

Even though these chemical solvents are used on a regular basis, the hazards of ammonium carbonate can cause eye and skin irritation, digestive tract irritation, and result in respiratory tract irritation as well, a material safety data sheet from Iowa State University reported.

To prevent these harmful contaminants from lingering in the air and harming art restorers, facilities need to invest in benchtop fume extractors to catch the hazardous airborne contaminants at the source. This equipment is ideal for anyone in the art restoration industry because it can fit most working spaces and helps remove harmful airborne particles from the workspace even if it’s a high-capacity facility.

Source Capture vs. Ambient: Two Important Air Filtration Methods

Welding is a process where there are many different methods, such as shielded metal arc, gas metal arc and submerged arc. Since the practice involves the use of sophisticated tools and equipment, workplaces have to ensure their employees are protected at all times. Welders often shield themselves by wearing protective clothing, in addition to a goggles and welding helmets. However, workplaces must also ensure their air filtration systems are properly working because the fumes from welding can become quite hazardous. Luckily, two filtration methods exist: source capture and ambient. Each filtration system has unique traits that workplaces need to be aware of.

benefits of source capture and ambient to welders

Dangers of Welding

Even though workers can protect themselves while welding, the process still results in other side effects that can be potentially dangerous to an individual’s health. To ensure welders are protected while working, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has developed standards that building management must abide by.

For example, welding standards for construction industries are quite thorough. Per section 1926.353(c)(1) of OSHA’s Safety and Health Regulations for Construction, any welders working in an enclosed space must do so only if the local ventilation system meets OSHA standards. One of the agency’s rules states that oxygen must not be used for ventilation reasons. If, sufficient ventilation is not possible, employees must be outfitted with air line respirators.

Employers must ensure workers are protected because welding can lead to severe illnesses for workers. Most notable is metal fume fever, which is caused by exposure to fumes. This illness leads to flu-like symptoms, and individuals will typically experience periods of fatigue, nausea, headaches, chills, high fever, chest pain and more. According to Weld Guru, a metallic or sweet taste can also develop in the mouth, and this will distort the taste of food and liquids.

More severe metal fume fever symptoms may include vomiting, skin rash and convulsions. But for most individuals who contract the illness, their symptoms will go away within 24 to 48 hours. Individuals will feel completely healthy after four days.

Unfortunately, the exact cause of metal fume fever is not known, but there is reason to believe that workers often breathing metal oxide fumes could be a contributing factor. This may then lead to an immune reaction that causes modified proteins in the lung to act as allergens.

Metal Guru also stated zinc, magnesium and copper tend to result in the dangerous fumes workers may breath.

Source-Capture Ventilation

The best way to make sure workers do not fall ill from metal fume fever is to have ventilation systems installed throughout the area where welding takes place.

“Source capture through fume extraction should be utilized in order to remove fumes.”

As such, source capture through fume extraction should be utilized in order to remove fumes created from welding. With source capture, harmful and dangerous particulates are minimized before they can cause damage to a worker’s respiratory system.

Four types of source capture ventilation work best to protect welders:

  • Fume arm systems
  • Tip extraction
  • Overhead hood
  • Downdraft tables

A building’s manager will have to decide which type of source capture system works best throughout a building’s setup. For example, overhead hoods are suitable for large workspaces where smoke and fumes have to be contained. These systems then isolate the welding fumes to make for easier breathing. As a comparison, downdraft tables are built to draw fumes down and away from the worker as he or she breathes.

There are some downsides to source capture systems, however. In particular, managers may find it difficult to install these types of ventilation systems due to existing building infrastructure that might not be able to be reconfigured. In other instances, individual welders may prefer to have freely movable hoods that can provide a sufficient airflow and remove any fumes.

Ambient Air Filtration

Ambient air filtration systems can be installed in overhead spaces to draw fumes upward. From there, the air can be circulated to create an airflow that will maximize the benefits of clean air.

While there is a clear distinction between ambient and source capture air ventilation systems, leadership and building management should not think of one as a replacement for the other. Instead, source capture and ambient systems should be used together for maximum benefits.

With metal fume fever affecting welders across the country, managers have to ensure they are doing everything possible to protect workers. This involves abiding by OSHA and other compliance regulations, in addition to installing the necessary air ventilation systems.

Together, ambient and source capture systems will help alleviate the dangers welders face.

Contact Air Impurities Removal Systems for more information and ways to protect welders from metal fume fever. Employers will find numerous options to choose from, including mobile and bench-top fume extractors and downdraft tables.

Industrial Hygiene & Indoor Air Quality Concerns

Industrial Hygiene & Indoor Air Quality Concerns 1

In the early 20th century, public awareness of occupational-related illnesses was not yet a reality, but advocacy for the safety of US laborers was beginning to grow. Physicians, research scientists, and medical experts began documenting worker health problems. Pioneers of the labor-advocacy movement led efforts to improve industrial hygiene after finding conclusive evidence linking worker illness to contact with noxious contaminants. Industrial hygiene, simply put, is the environment of cleanliness in a given industry. It is a broad-reaching topic, one that includes indoor air quality.

Indoor air quality can be compromised everywhere – in all types of businesses. Perhaps the most at-risk industries are those in the production of goods. Dust and fumes generated during the manufacturing process can result in the release of impurities in the workplace. This exposure to unclean air can be hazardous which is why agencies such as OSHA have gone to great lengths to protect the US labor force from unsafe working conditions.

The World Health Organization named airborne dust and vapors in the workplace vital global health concerns because of their association with widespread disease. (1)

Clean Air Standards in the Workplace

The government requires all industries to comply with certain clean air standards. But in some cases, business owners wish to go beyond what is federally mandated and ensure that their workers are completely protected from errant toxins in order to eliminate health risks and improve productivity.

This is where industrial hygiene becomes a necessary focus. OSHA defines industrial hygiene as,

The science devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, and control of those environmental factors or stresses arising in or from the workplace, which may cause sickness, impaired health and well being, or significant discomfort among workers. (2)

Industries most likely to generate excessive dust include:

  1. Any job that breaks or crushes solid material, such as stone masonry
  2. Foundries
  3. Blasting labors such as rust and paint removal
  4. Glass and ceramics manufacturing
  5. Powered chemical use in chemical, pesticide, pharma and rubber industries
  6. Food processing plants, such as flour mills and bakeries

In addition to dust and particulates, fumes and mists threaten workplace safety. Specific manufacturing jobs that have a high incidence of occupational exposure to chemical fumes include those in the paint, welding, rubber, and pharmaceutical industries. It isn’t just the health of the workforce that can suffer. When indoor air quality is poor, production can suffer as well.

Building Awareness

Often, business owners are aware of the exposure risks faced by their employees and take steps to remediate. However, when it isn’t clear what environmental dangers exist, they can hire industrial hygienists (IHs) to analyze, identify, and measure occupational hazards that can cause health problems in their workers. (3) IHS uses environmental monitoring and analytical methods to detect the extent of worker exposure.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) names – but does not limit – occupational risks to the following contaminants:

Aerosols, airborne particles, asbestos, combustibles, dust, gases, hazardous waste, lead, nanotechnology, pesticides, silica, and solvents. (4)

A professional industrial hygienist will measure air quality in two key areas: a worker’s breathing zone and the ambient air in a given physical area. The resultant approach to improving air quality is three-tiered:

  1. Eliminate or reduce particles and fumes through engineering controls
  2. Extract particulates and fumes through capture and ventilation systems
  3. Filter particulates and fumes from inside and then discharge outside (5)

WHO backs up this standard of practice, citing the best way to improve poor IAQ is through elimination at the source, containment, and ventilation. (1)

Don’t let poor industrial hygiene prove to be a setback for your business. At AIR Systems, Inc. we serve our customers by identifying areas of potential risk. We supply stellar products that will eliminate, extract, and filter out hazardous dust and fumes, removing air-impurities from your place of business, keeping your workers safe. Contact us today to schedule a free estimate with one of our skilled and experienced clean air specialists.