Collections > Master's Papers > Gillings School of Public Health > Non-Toxic Particulate Masks: A Quantitative Evaluation of Their Effectiveness During Paint Spraying Operations

It is commonly known that disposable dust masks offer a worker no protection from solvent vapors. However, they are frequently utilized during paint spraying operations. In one instance a workman wearing a disposable mask died from xylene poisoning while spray painting a boat outdoors. This study examined the possibility that the constant wetting of a dust mask during paint spraying may create an elevated solvent concentration in the breathing zone of a worker. Tests were conducted in a controlled laboratory system that determined simultaneous xylene concentrations in a mask and in the surrounding ambient air immediately following a paint spray of varying duration. Results consistently indicated a remarkably higher concentration inside the mask for the initial two minutes following the spray of paint. The theoretical dose was as much as 86% greater inside the mask as compared to outside the mask during those two minutes.