Do our recreational pastimes require special ventilation systems?
Exceptional exposures to chemicals may be caused by free time activities related to substantial emissions combined with poor ventilation. Professional handling of many compounds requires adequate safety measures such as effective ventilation, possibly combined with a local exhaust system, knowledge of chemical safety documents, and personal protection devices. In contrast, hobby activities often take place in a space that has no ventilation planned for that activity. When advice is given on these garage or basement activities, also some advice on safety measures should be emphasized to decrease the risk of exposure to hazardous compounds.
Space used for hobbies is often too small and the ventilation in the space was never intended to cope with vapourising or dangerous chemicals. Examples of problematic activities are building or repairing laminated plastic boats (exposure to monomers like vinyl chloride or styrene, solvents such as xylene or acetone, and grinding dust), car repair and renovation and other metal and wood handling (exposure to solvents, paints, oils and dusts), preparation of fishing lures (exposure to lacquers and solvents), painting of porcelain and oil painting (exposure to turpentine and colours), metal graphics (exposure to solvents, grinding pastes, resins, acids and printing pigments), fabric painting and printing (exposure to pigments, salts, solvents, and waxes), photography laboratory, lead soldering of glass, finishing ceramics in electric ovens, circuit board preparation in electronics, and running motors indoors.
Motor sports or any other use of internal combustion motors indoors such as use of small machines may cause serious health consequences e.g. because of carbon monoxide exposure. Studies on the risks of free time and hobby activities are almost non-existent, and also little attention has been paid to controlling the indoor air associated with such activities.
There is a clear risk when chemicals are used in environments which have not been planned for this kind of heavy-duty use, and no safety measures were taken into account when planning the spaces.
Notes and references
- See the chapter "People don’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning any more – do they?"
One level up: The air that we breathe
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