We get questions from users about the use of safety equipment in real world situations all the time. One of the things I’d like to do from time to time is share some of the answers for those of you in similar circumstances. Also, please note that we encourage this type of inquiry. Just so you know, names or details about you will never be used in a blog post. Here is the question…
I would like to buy a mask that can protect me from the fumes of E6000 glue which I believe is highly toxic. Unfortunately, it works great and is the only glue i have found to do the job i need it to do. Which is a good mask for this purpose? I will be gluing on crystals on ice skating costumes and sometimes work for a number of hours. thanks
And here is the answer that I gave, expanded slightly to illuminate some aspects for users unfamiliar with the subject…
Hi, the E6000 glue contains Perchloroethylene, also known as Tetrachloroethylene. This is a pretty nasty solvent. The most common use for it is in the Dry Cleaning industry, where it is often referred to as PERC. As you can see, it is also used as a component in some adhesives. I found a brief explanation about this solvent on the epa.gov website. You might want to take a look: EPA Chemical FAQs
3M recommends using organic vapor cartridges attached to a full face respirator. They say to use a full face mask since the solvent will attack mucous membranes as found in the nose and eyes. This is a particular problem at high concentrations, which are unlikely to occur in your particular application.
With proper ventilation (exhaust fan?), you should be able to get away with a half mask, which costs less money, but don't ignore this aspect of the problem. And you do so at your own risk (have to say that).
The 3M organic vapor cartridges are... 3M 6001 Organic Vapor Cartridges
The 3M full face mask respirator is... 3M Full Face Respirator
The 3M half mask respirator is... 3M Half-Face Respirator
The 3M 6001 cartridge will fit on either mask. Choose a size, and look for a comfortable fit. When you put on the mask, with cartridges attached, you should not smell or taste the solvent. When you start to smell it, then it is time to change the cartridges. There is no set limit on this time. Less solvents mean the carbon (activated charcoal) lasts longer. More solvent concentration means less time.
When you aren't using the glue and mask, keep them separated, since the carbon will absorb solvent vapors out of the air. And the mask may pick up the scent. A zip lock bag works well to hold the mask.
Oh, and one other thing. It is a good idea to wear gloves when handling the glue. Disposable nitrile gloves are a good choice to maintain the dexterity you need for the fine work, but still have some chemical resistance.
Thank you, Rick Pedley PK Safety Supply
The customer got back to me with a further clarification…
thanks so much for the information. My only concern for the full mask is that I wear glasses. If the half mask covers the nose, then it is the eye membranes that are susceptible. By exhaust fan, do you mean a regular fan or is this something different? If I were to do this outside in full ventilation do you think a 1/2 mask would solve the problem of protecting my lungs and nose from this stuff? I would buy the full mask but I am concerned about spending almost $200 on a mask and eye piece since I don't know if I am going to be doing this a lot. Any information you have will be appreciated. Thanks so much.
Glasses can be a problem. They make an eyeglass insert for the full-face respirator mask that allows you to have a prescription lens inside the mask. 3M Full-Face Mask Spectacle Kit
But if you can get ventilation, then using the half mask is likely ok. What I mean by using an exhaust fan is that there is air movement either out of the space or into the space. Not just circulating. Outdoors is good of course.
Thank you, Rick