Airbrush mistake #2: The Superman Syndrome

It is invisible. Sometimes you notice it, but most of the time you don't. Everyone tends to ignore its presence, but if you are airbrushing, it is there… right in front of you…assaulting you continuously. Almost all airbrush artists know it exists, and yet they do not fear it. What is this insidious danger that airbrush artists feel they are immune to?

It's the paint in your gun. Rather, the paint coming out of your gun in the form of overspray. If you airbrush without a mask in a non-ventilated environment, your lungs become the air filter for the room, and that stuff you inhale sticks to your lungs. You can't often see it, but overspray can hang in the air for hours, invading your body with each breath you take.

Most airbrush artists dismiss the danger, perhaps because they feel invincible. After all, It’s easy to dismiss a hazard that you hardly notice.  Besides, wearing a mask on a hot summer day isn't the most comfortable feeling. However, the damage to your lungs over the years adds up.

It’s never too late to stop the damage. Next time you pick up your airbrush, pick up your mask, and wear it. To quote veteran airbrush artist Mark Rush: "airbrush in your hand - mask on your face." You will breathe easier.

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Jack F.

April 01, 2016

Amen! Protect your lungs! Paint. smoke, dust and chemicals and shorten your life. Don’t go before your called. Love ya all. Enjoy while you can!


April 02, 2016

So very true, Superman was the strongest man alive yet he had a weakness. The important thing is to recognize that we all have a weakness, and in this case the paint. Smile

Chri Woerner

April 02, 2016

I have been painting at a dealership for 25 years. I spray ureathane clear daily. The stuff is very toxic. I always wear a mask, gloves and sometimes a paint suit. But i have to admit i get a little lazy and don’t wear my mask when i’m airbrushing . Thanks for bringing this to everyones attention. I’ll give it a try


April 02, 2016

I agree, the dust is killing me. But if I’m wearing a mask while painting get Tee shirts in my shop… well what about the customers?

Keith Spence

April 02, 2016

Forty years of making a living as an Air Brusher when asked by many what kind of paint should they use, I have a simple answer, “Whatever kind of paint you want to breathe.” The second tool in my art box is a fan that blows the air between my face and my air brush gun with lower pressure I have less over spray to deal with, but it still exists.


April 03, 2016

So happy this danger is finally being recognized and getting the attention it deserves. Many of our renowned artists/painters of old were thought to be crazy or insane. Paint they used back then was highly toxic (lead based for one).
Anyone would become crazy breathing those fumes in all day, every day, over a number of years in an, oftentimes tiny, closed room with zero ventilation. All this w/ just a paintbrush. Now, imagine the power of an airbrush spraying
all that fine mist into the air!!!! Thank you for an excellent warning to all artists, airbrush painters or not. Take care of oneself, protect your lungs!!
Cuz if YOU don’t, who willllll?!!!!!

Chris Jensen

April 03, 2016

I notice many artists Dont use afan or a exhaust. All it takes is buy a cheap square fan buy some ducting ( flexible) and buy a 2dollar filter from Lowes or home depot , then take cardboard and build a box and put it below your work area so the over spray will get pulled downward , then run the flex hose out a window or a door . then turn on and you have a homemade exhaust . It will only take a few dollars and helps keep your lungs healthy .

Chuck L

April 05, 2016

Did the “painting on aircraft” class prompt this tip? Mask are cheap nowadays, might as well use one. It is gross but the next time you paint without a mask blow your nose and that is just a small sample of what went in your lungs.

David Stank

December 26, 2016

Timely topic! Just last week I replaced my respirator’s filters and tore apart an old filter to see what it looked like. VERY revealing! The first paper element before the activated charcoal was originally white and the areas where are was drawn through were a dark blue-gray by contrast.
Always wear a mask when atomized particles are in the air.

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