Safety precautions when using acetone
Acetone can be used to smooth ABS prints. What safety precautions should be taken during its use?
There are a few main safety precautions you should consider.
- Make sure the area is well-ventilated. Acetone is flammable. A buildup of acetone gas could quickly get concentrated, meaning that a single spark could lead to disaster. Using a fan is good; angle it towards an open window. This is also to prevent exposure to acetone because of its toxicity.
- Be prepared to fight a fire. Should vapor ignite, you may need to fight the fire. If it is large enough, then you should clearly evacuate the area. If it appears to be small, use dry chemical powder to snuff out the fire. Alcohol foam, water spray, and/or fog may be used on slightly larger fires. Acetone is not likely to cause a large inferno to rip through the building. But there's always the chance of a small fire. Be careful.
- Create a vapor chamber. This is another way to stop a potential fire from spreading. It can also reduce contamination.
- Wear gloves. This can minimize any potential transfer toxic effects. However, skin exposure is unlikely to cause major issues.
Acetone is toxic, as I mentioned before, but it is not highly toxic. Exposure via the eyes and nose/mouth is the main risk. Skin effects may occur (e.g. mild irritation), but they are minor and generally arise only after long-term exposure (hence the recommendation of gloves in some cases).
Acetone exposure is only a serious problem when a person is repeatedly exposed to levels greater than 1,000 ppm (severe effects only arise at much higher levels). It seems unlikely, given a proper ventilation system, that this will be an issue
In addition to all this, basic safety precautions such as wearing a ventilator mask and goggles should definitely be taken. When working with any such chemicals with the potential for bodily harm, these should absolutely be used.
@KevinMorse Fair point, in that case, and I suppose they can also protect from burns. I tend to dislike the associated clumsiness that comes with some gloves, but most don't have that issue. It's just my preference, and probably not the best one.
These safety instructions are incomplete. You failed to mention the need ventilation is in addition to wearing a ventilator for instance. You also left out the need to use safety equipment like goggles. In my opinion your answer should link the MSDS as a catchall for what you left unmentioned.
@EmilyM These are basic precautions that should be obvious. Nobody in their right mind would work with acetone like this and not wear goggles or a ventilator mask, just like you wouldn't take a cake out of the oven without wearing an oven mitt. I didn't think it was necessary to include them. However, I can add them in if you feel they are not obvious.
I wasn't trying to be confrontational. But when it comes to safety recommendations assumptions aren't a good idea. People are dumb, uninformed, tired, not paying attention etc. It can't hurt to be thorough. I just want people to be safe, thus my answering the question. But since you are more likely to be the chosen answer at this point, I was hoping to convince you to make an edit for the sake of safety.
@EmilyM Just some backstory, as I may have jumped off as harsh, too: Soon after I posted this answer, an error was found in my answer in comments, and so I deleted the post (because it is a question about safety), edited it, then talked more with the poster (who had been absolutely correct), before finally leaving it as is. I think I was the one who was too confrontational here; I had spent a while on this answer, and I was frustrated at myself for leaving something out. So I apologize, because I jumped on you here, quite unnecessarily.
I understand. Thank you for making the additions. No worries about the confrontation; both of us are probably to blame to some extent. What is important is the quality of the answers- we both had that same goal and thus this result (a good answer) is what we both wanted. I accept your apology and extend my own for my part in the problem, which I'm sure you accept as well. No harm, no foul!