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I've been thinking more recently about studio safety/health and my studio enviroment. I paint mainly with oils and acyrlics and my space is in a basement of a two flat with no ventilation. There is alot of info online, however, I haven't found any specific safety type stuff about sanding paintings? I've googled it, but just found pages saying not to. I've heard of artists who have died due to lung cancer from it and just wanted some info on the safest way to approach it. I've already sanded outside with a respiator mask, but wanted to know if there are other things I should be doing? If anyone has any info about it for me, that would be great!

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I don't know what kind of mask you are using but I would invest in a good dual chamber filter half mask ( http://www.protecdirect.co.uk/Half-Masks-and-Full-Masks/3M-7003-Hal... ) that way you would just have to get different filters for different uses.
Yeah...thats what I'm using. I've just heard so many bad things about sanding painting that it kinda got me freaked out and was trying to make sure I'm doing everything I can. Thanks Mart
Dear Jordan, Studio safety is a very important topic, cadmium is a heavy metal like mercury so don't ingest any amount the human body can withstand X parts per million you have already inadvertently ingested more than you should it is used as flux when soldering soft metals like copper and brass so you probably have some in your system. Don't point brushes in your mouth for watercolors or acrylics. SWINE FLU OR NO SWINE FLUE always wash you hands when your through working and always before eating. Lead is a heavy metal too, water pipe joints that were sweated before 1990 used lead solder, know that heavy metals are accumulative and trace amounts keep building up so don't add to the total if you prevent them from happening. Morris Louis had a basement studio in Washington D.C. with little no ventilation and the liquid acrylic he used to create those wonderful poured paintings also killed him. Kenneth Nolan's studio was up the street and he told me that atmosphere was like a heavy fog. I will discuss the topic further if you are still interested I have many ideas and I apply them, All the Best, Donald
I'm not sure about the sanding, but I work in pastel and became concerned about the possible health hazards of inhaling the dust it creates. I found a website that suggested a particular type and grade of respirator. (I look like I am about to prepare for a Mustard Gas attack....) But it seemed worth it. If you have no ventilation (or can't ventilate during very cold months like me) I suggest you might think about one of those small filters you can buy to use in just one room.
You can get them at Jerry's or Art Supply Warehouse. They are expensive at first glance---but not as expensive as medical bills. I'll try to find the site that had the respirator info!
Such a good question - I sand my paintings as part of the painting process - as I am sanding I always wonder about how safe it might be. For example, is it less or more safe than driving 10 miles on secondary roads?? More or less safe than eating at McDonald's?? So many possible questions and I never have any answers :(
Studio safety - I always think of an episode of "Dead Like Me" (comedy) - an artist is working away, drinking glass right next to the jar holding thinner, he's totally taken by the work he's doing, reaches for the wrong glass... A very dark comedy. And a warning...

Heavy metals in the dust - I've never sanded a painting, but you can sand drywall with wet sponges, rough on one side and made to be used for this - keeps the dust down, kind of like handling asbestos - you keep it wet to keep it out of the air - and on top of that wear respirator, and keep from breathing it. I would see if this works for the effect you want - the thing is indoors you could not breath the dust in the act of sanding and yet unless you isolate the sanding area, the dust is there - and most vacuums don't isolate ALL dust as they clean. So on top of that you'd want to plastic off an area and then wet clean it after.

I take care not to drink the thinner, and to dispose of oily rags very carefully.

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