QuestionA real This to That user really wrote:
I have a craft booth in a craft mall so I make a lot of crafts using craft glue sticks. Many people use glue guns today since crafting is so popular. What I'm wondering about is about breathing in the vapors as I craft. I've noticed many times I will get headaches most especially while using hot glue. If I knew that using hot glue guns on a regular basis is a health risk I would quit crafting! There isn't any information on the glue sticks bags giving any warning of any health risk, sometimes I wonder if maybe there isn't because they don't want people to know if there is because then they won't sell as much glue. When I use my hot glue most of the time I where a respirator mask but I still wonder if I could be harming myself. What do you think?
AnswerYou have raised some intellegent responsible questions. As for the toxicity of glue stick, there are many different glue sticks on the market, some containing resins, formaldehydes,and silicones, all varying in degrees of toxicity. It is the manufacturers responsibility to provide you, the user, with the toxicilogical information on the products you are using. Your glue sticks should have a manufacturers address on the package; contact them and ask for an MSDS on the product (be specific as to which product, provide numbers etc.) The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) will tell you what is in the product, the TLV (threshold limit value, meaning how much of the toxin is permisable to enter your body) and the ways you can protect yourself. This brings me to your questions about a respirator.
Good for you for using one, and if you are also using the correct cartridges for the toxin you are exposed to, (this info will be on the MSDS) and the cartridges have not expired (they are good for up to 12 hours of exposure, and should be kept in a sealed bag when not in use) and your respirator fits you well with no leakage (beards and mustaches greatly reduce a respirators effectiveness), your respirator should be enough to protect you from what ever you are using. This is a lot of information, and some of it should have come with your respirator. Depending on where you live, there are institutions in place to help you sort through this info, ie. WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) in Canada and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Association) in the U.S.
A great book I could recommend is called Artist Beware by Michael McCann, published by Lyons & Burford. and Monona Rossol has written several books and articles for ACTS FACTS and is a very good resource. You can probably contact her through the Center for Occupational Hazards. Their address is 5 Beekman Street, New York, New York. 10038, telephone (212)227-6220. Your concerns are worth putting some time into researching the answers, and knowledge is your best protection. Also, tell your friends what you learn.
We all need to be more responsible and pro-active about our health. Good luck and happy gluing.