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The Complete Respirator and Safety Guide

Discussion in 'Halo Costumes and Armor' started by Sean Bradley, Jan 27, 2008.

  1. Sean Bradley

    Sean Bradley

    The Complete Respirator and Safety Guide

    Overview of hazardous materials and safety precautions

    There are certain materials commonly used in the creation of costume armor that are hazardous to your health and should ONLY be used with proper safety equipment, ventilation and in accordance with the manufacturers safety recommendations.

    Mjolnirarmor.com and the 405th costume armor group insists on the responsible use of these materials by its members and guests to these sites in the creation of costume armor.

    These hazardous materials include but are not limited to:


    Polyester or 'Fiberglass' resin is a two part liquid plastic that is commonly sold for repair projects. A kit consists of a quantity of resin and a smaller quantity of catalyst or hardener. Adding the hardener to the resin in the manufacturers specified ratio (usually 1/10) will cause the liquid resin to cure to a very hard, yet brittle plastic. Using this resin in combination with fiberglass cloth yields a reinforced composite material that is strong, lightweight and rigid.

    Polyester resin is a particularly dangerous material because of the fumes that it gives off in an unmixed state and during the curing process. Short-term effects of these fumes are dizziness, nausea and skin irritation. Long–term effects of overexposure can include nervous system (brain) damage, asphyxiation, and cancer related hazards.

    For further information, the Material Safety Data Sheet for this material can be found here:



    Bondo is a two-part putty for the cosmetic repair of dents in cars, created by the Bondo Corporation. While the term "Bondo" is a brand name for this company's product, it is commonly used in the U.S. as a genericized trademark to refer to all auto-repair putties or so-called plastic body fillers. Bondo is a polyester resin product that when mixed with a hardener (an organic peroxie), or catalyst, turns into a putty which then sets and becomes rock-hard.

    As bondo is variant of Polyester resin, it carries with it all the same hazards and potential for long-term damage, see above.

    For further information, the Material Safety Data Sheet for this material can be found here:



    Urethane resin is a low viscosity two part plastic that is frequently used for casting. The resin part of a urethane product is not very hazardous. This is because it is not actually a "urethane resin." Instead, it is any of several types of resins such as polyesters, polyethers, polyols, epoxies, and so on. These resins do not become "polyurethane" until they are reacted (cured, hardened, etc. ) with a diisocyanate. These diisocyanates are the problem.

    Diisocyanate hardeners are capable of causing severe respiratory allergies and lung damage. Most notably, they cause a debilitating incurable occupational illness called "isocyanate asthma." Sudden respiratory spasms and anaphylactic shock on exposure to diisocyanates also has resulted in death among workers using urethanes. There have been cases in which deaths occurred suddenly and without warning in people with no prior history of allergies.

    For further information, the Material Safety Data Sheet for this material can be found here:



    Cyanoacrylate or ‘Super Glue” is the generic name for substances such as ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate, which is typically sold under trademarks like Superglue and Krazy Glue. Cyanoacrylate adhesives are sometimes known as "instant adhesives". The acronym "CA" is quite commonly used for industrial grades

    Cyanoacrylates bond skin and eyes in seconds. Cyanoacrylates give off vapor which is irritating to eyes, mucous membranes and the respiratory system.

    For further information, the Material Safety Data Sheet for this material can be found here:



    Epoxy or polyepoxide is a thermosetting epoxide polymer that cures (polymerizes and crosslinks) when mixed with a catalyzing agent or "hardener". Most common epoxy resins are produced from a reaction between two parts. Epoxies are frequently used as glue or hardeners in the craft and creations of costume armor.

    The primary risk associated with epoxy use is sensitization to the hardener, which, over time, can induce an allergic reaction.Both epichlorohydrin and bisphenol A are suspected endocrine disruptors.According to some reports [5] Bisphenol A is linked to the following effects in humans:

    • oestrogenic activity;

    • alteration of male reproductive organs;

    • early puberty induction;

    • shortened duration of breast feeding;

    • pancreatic cancer

    For further information, the Material Safety Data Sheet for this material can be found here:


    Saftey precautions

    Fumes and Vapors:


    Many of the materials used in costume armor making are hazardous but can be used safely by taking certain saftey precautions. First and foremost, most of these products require the use of a Organic Vapor Respirator. In addition to this precaution, saftey glasses and latex or nitrile gloves will protect against skin absorbtion and irritation from these chemicals.

    There are many types of respirators designed for different uses. For the use of materials that cast off harmful vapors and organic fumes (Polyester Resin,Bondo,Urethane Resin, Epoxies) an OSHA or NIOSH approved respirator rated for fumes and organic vapors is absolutely necessary. These respirators use a cartridge filtration system that both filters and chemically neutralizes these hazardous chemicals.

    Appropriate Respirators for fumes and vapors:



    Work with plenty of ventilation, and be safe. Don’t cheap out of your health, it WILL cost you later in life.

    Dusts and Particulates:


    The afforementioned respirators will filter dust and particualtes as well as fumes and vapors. If you wish to extend the life of your organic vapor respirator, you may want to use a different respirator while sanding.

    A good dust mask will create a proper seal on your face, and will not allow unfiltered particulates to pass around the mask and into your lungs. Higher end dust mast are far more effective at this than cheap paper masks.

    Skin Absorbtion/Irritation:


    Latex, vinyl, or nitrile gloves will protect the exposed skin of your hands from skin irritation as well as from chemical burns, and absorbtion of the chemical through the porous membranes of your skin.

    Eye protection:


    In additon to the previous measures, eye protection will prevent liquid splashes, and dusts from entering your eyes. Eyes can be extremely sensitive to these chemicals, and eye protection is a serious issue. As in all safety precaustions, it is better to wear it, that to regret it later.

    I hope that this guide prepares you for the materials that you come into contact with in this hobby. Be sure to read ALL accompanying saftey warnings with EVERY material that you use. If you have any questions, or would like advice on a particular material, please let me know.

    Be safe, and make cool armor!


    ******* Additional information******

    As a complement to Sean's great thread, I would like to add this.

    In Europe (atleast in Scandinavia) we have a different system for respirators, with various labels. The most common label is A1. The A stands for that it can handle organic fumes and vapors, in a system of A1, A2 and A3. What differs these from each other is how packed the charcole is, A1 has less packed charcole than A3, and is often the cheapest one. A3 is pretty unusual, more common is A1 and A2.

    These will protect you from the fumes and vapors, but will not protect you from any type of fiberglass dust or 2-component spackling paste like Bondo. It will practically go right through, and your body will not be able to break down the dust, that gathers in your lungs.

    To get protection for this you will need to get a P3 filter, which you could add as a supplement to your normal respirators. These does'nt cost much, and will save you your health. These does'nt have an expire date as the charcole filters, and will work as long as you could get air through it (information gathered from Procurator, the biggest distributor of personal safety equipment in Sweden).

    Please take in mind that a normal white dustmask wont give you protection against the dust! You will suffer from it when you get older, and your medical bills will be extremly much higher than the filter price, since the filter cost about as much as a pizza.

    If you wanna make your charcole filters last as long as possible, then you should put them in an sealed plastic bag after you have used them, and keep them there ( another hint from Procurator).

    I will warn people from Sweden to not use Biltema safety equipment, since they are bad quality, the headmaster of the Polyester department from theirs told me he did'nt use a respirator himself! That makes it quite hard to know anything about it then, and I bought 3 respirators from the which leaked. I would though recommend Jula's MSA Respirator which has A2 + P3 filters that I use, which they get from Procurator. It's a bit pricy, but safety should be the last thing you start saving on.

    A common combination you could ask for in your local store is A2 + P3 , which will give you full protection against both the resin fumes and the dust.

    Best Regards,

    TheUX31EGuy likes this.
  2. falcon NL

    falcon NL Well-Known Member

    Great job Sean!

    A very important safety guide for new people on the forum. A good explanation of the product that are comely use, and HOW to use!
  3. luketrocity

    luketrocity Member

    WOW. Great post man. If I hadn't already done the research myself, I would use this! Hopefully this will help more newcomers.
  4. Spartan 061

    Spartan 061 Well-Known Member

    Thanks Sean! Nice guide.
  5. florios

    florios Jr Member

    i dont understand couldent i use the fumes mask for every thing or should i get both?
  6. rachciav

    rachciav Well-Known Member

    i have a question about that new aquaresin, would you still need a resperator for that? or just a dust mask for sanding and the fiberglass particles.
  7. Sean Bradley

    Sean Bradley

    florios: You can just use the Organic Vapor Respirator for both, but using it for dusty work like sanding may shorten it's lifespan due to the filter matrix being clogged by dust. Either get a good dust mask for dusty work, or change your filter cartriges often.

    rachiav: This thread really isn't about the non-toxic resins, I think I made it clear in the thread for that topic that no one seems to know anything about them yet. I'll keep you posted on what I learn in that thread.
  8. rachciav

    rachciav Well-Known Member

    oh. i was talking more about the dust form sanding the non toxic resin. and if that was dangerous to breath in, and if you need a resperator for the fiberglass if you dont have resin.
  9. Sean Bradley

    Sean Bradley

    Dust is ALWAYS bad... even so called non-toxic dust. Once it goes in your lungs, it doesn't come back out so easy... gets into all the nooks and crannies and suddenly your lungs are only working at 60%...

    It's be completely worthwhile to get a good respirator. I know it's a requirement for most art school students. You're going to come into contact with dust more than most people if you do this kind of work for a longer period of time.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2017
  10. rachciav

    rachciav Well-Known Member

    eeeep....i think im gonna get a resperator then..considering my lungs probably only funtion 60% all the time (stupid athsma) and going to art school isnt gonna help that.......i should invest in one now, before i become a starving artist :lol:
  11. ptblduffy

    ptblduffy New Member

    Thanks for the help. It's nice to hear about a repirator from someone who actually seems to know what he's talking about, and not have to worry about getting one that some idiot posted would be "fine". I like to think I have a lot of life left to live, so this makes me happy :D
  12. Sean Bradley

    Sean Bradley

    Here to help!

    I'm genuinely concerned for everyones safety here. I don't want ANYONE to put themselves at risk for this hobby. I guess that comes from the strictness of my art professors when I was in college. They were militant about it,and for good reason: many of them didn't have the luxury of having the safety equipment that our generation does, they grew up in an age that didn't know or care about these health concerns nearly as much. As a result many, if not most of them were ailing form various respiratory illnesses.. collapsed lungs, cancer, and the like.

    I guess that changed my outlook on it gravely.. I hope to do the same for the people that I advise.
  13. Silverzippo93

    Silverzippo93 Well-Known Member

    I've been using a dust mask/respirator like the one you showed. Does that protect against resin fumes?
  14. Sean Bradley

    Sean Bradley

    There is one listed for Fumes and Vapors and one listed for Dust/Particulates.

    Read the original post to clarify.

    Respirator (Fumes/Vapors):


    Dust Mask (Dust/Particulates)

  15. Silverzippo93

    Silverzippo93 Well-Known Member


    I guess it's time for a new respirator...
  16. stanvo

    stanvo Jr Member

    how long can you go before you have to change the filter on one of those?
  17. Roodkill

    Roodkill Member

    about 40 hours. The one from Lowe's is affordable and
    WELL WORTH IT. Trust me, that's why I'm sick as of now-
    layed up with 104 temp, coughing, vomit. . . you know.
  18. Xetrov

    Xetrov New Member

    This is just what i was looking for, thanks for the good info

    better to be safe
  19. Deadguy

    Deadguy Well-Known Member

    BlacRoseImmortal's Blog entry.

    She decided to cut some safety corners... You can bet that didn't turn-out well. Shortly after she had the ulcers treated in her eye that resulted from toxic fumes, and could see again, she swore she'd never do THAT again.

    Yeah, and so, like many of us are probably prone to do.. she did it again. This time she involuntarily sneezed and while inhaling to sneeze, she sucked-in fiberglass particles while dremelling.


    Does anyone else have a story to tell that they can put in their blog and give us links to here? You might feel silly, but you could be saving the lives, and/or quality of life of your friends here. Roodkill? want to share in your blog?

    This stuff is SERIOUS business, and I'm seeing shortcuts, tutorials, and WIPs that don't mention it at all, when it reality.. every one of them should point back to this safety tutorial.
  20. ponchato

    ponchato Jr Member

  21. Sean Bradley

    Sean Bradley

    The equipment checks out, it's an organic vapor respirator. Proper use is necessary for full protection. Follow all the instructions.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2017
  22. mightymints

    mightymints Member

    I thought I might add that in the UK, you want to find a mask with A2-P3 filters on it. That should pretty much cover everything you do in making props or armor mask wise.
  23. ponchato

    ponchato Jr Member

    Awesome, thanks.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2017
  24. extrabread

    extrabread Jr Member

    Wow, I didn't know they sell respirators at lowes. I'll have to pick some up.
  25. SeamusRocks999

    SeamusRocks999 Jr Member

    I resined my armor with just my shirt over my nose, I couldn't smell the resin, is that overexposure? Does it kill a lot of brain cells? Will I need a respirator for the inside of my helmet when I put it on?

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