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Unread 10-10-2017, 03:47 PM   #1
Little.pixel
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Foam Board Question

Hi!

I have a question regarding insulation foam board (pink). Is it toxic in any way? I usually wear one of those flimsy painters masks while carving it but I end up getting some light chest pains and headache afterwards? I don't know if that's due to the foam or just something random like the mask being too tight.
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Unread 10-10-2017, 04:18 PM   #2
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Formally, I don't think so, otherwise there would be big warning labels all over it. That said: you in specific may be very sensitive to the fine particles is a distinct possibility.

**** Does it have a distinct smell to you?***** either in the store, at home, transporting it, or when you cut it? This is typically a good clue that you are sensitive as most people are unaware of any particular scent in that product.
Are you working inside? Try moving the operation outside or at least somewhere with good ventilation.

A better quality dust mask won't hurt.

Are you going to a specific place other than your home to work with this stuff? There might be something there causing your symptoms.

Be safe, do more research.
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Unread 10-10-2017, 06:09 PM   #3
Little.pixel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penlowe View Post
Formally, I don't think so, otherwise there would be big warning labels all over it. That said: you in specific may be very sensitive to the fine particles is a distinct possibility.

**** Does it have a distinct smell to you?***** either in the store, at home, transporting it, or when you cut it? This is typically a good clue that you are sensitive as most people are unaware of any particular scent in that product.
Are you working inside? Try moving the operation outside or at least somewhere with good ventilation.

A better quality dust mask won't hurt.

Are you going to a specific place other than your home to work with this stuff? There might be something there causing your symptoms.

Be safe, do more research.
Thanks for the response! Even with a respirator on I can smell it while cutting. It's fine as is, but when I start carving it the smell is somewhat strong. I work in my basement so I could try moving it outside as well. Noting that I've had this persistent breathing/chest pain and headache after being down there for only an hour, I'm assuming I'm just very sensitive to the foam. Do you think inhaling it is extremely unhealthy to my lungs?
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Unread 10-10-2017, 06:41 PM   #4
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Yes and no. Personally, I've carved the crap out of tons of that foam, and never wore a mask, and never had any problems of any kind. But technically wearing a face mask is suppose to be a good idea when working with it. So idk. Honestly, it could be wearing the mask that's doing that. It makes less air get through, which would cause that same outcome.

About the smell, that's a new one for me. With as much as I've done to that stuff, I've never had it give off a bad smell unless I applied lots of heat to it. I use to have this weird hot knife thing that was terrible and did more burning then cutting. That made it smell bad. It smelled like burnt foam, which is what it was. So depending on what you're cutting it with, that could be why. Basically anything like those saws that you see that are vertical cutting that people use to cut foam, or anything that moves super fast like that, will cause friction, creating a burnt smell. But cutting it with a simple hand held box knife or something should not give off any smell.
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Unread 10-11-2017, 12:29 AM   #5
Dictamnus Albus
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there are surf board makers that have just used dust masks or bandanas
and have been just fine
then there are those who will say you should use a full blown respirator

the way i feel about it, is if when it burns, it gives off a black smoke (sooty)
then its harmfull to breathe in (or if liquid, unless you know its water, dont trust it)

if your hot cutting, use a cartriged filter mask, if your using a sander or regular knife
or braided wire cutter, then you should be fine with even a cheap bandana (damp)
unless you have sensitivities

in general you shouldnt need a filter breather unless your effecting the material
on a chemical level, such as melting or burning

if your sanding and getting some real fine dust,
you can use a static elecric attractor to help cut down on the dust in the air
also avoid blowing the debris around, use a vacume, or static attractor

static attractor such as a sheet of ceran wrap,
hang a sheet from a clothes hanger and add small disposable weight to the bottom
and super charge it, by rubbing it with an extra dry microfiber rag
hang that above the space between you and the project

to dispose of it, bring the trash bag around the wrap and cut it free,
it defeats the purpose if you fluff dust up into the air by balling
it up and tossing it for 2 points

also, to be effective, many masks will need to be tight enough that it leaves an imprint after awhile
but if that imprint is red (or "blanched" white) and its kinda sore, then its too tight
this dosnt applt to those formed fabric masks like cheap dust masks, those are basically trash to start
sanding wood? maybe, but otherwise its either more than nessesary or more nuisance than effective
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Last edited by Dictamnus Albus : 10-11-2017 at 12:38 AM.
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Unread 10-11-2017, 07:47 AM   #6
Penlowe
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Quote:
but when I start carving it the smell is somewhat strong
That's the culprit right there. Agree with the above, if you are using a heat tool or high friction tool and getting a smell, that specifically is the problem. Heat/ friction is changing the structure chemically (i.e. burning or melting), and thereby releasing chemicals in the air that wouldn't be released under other circumstances.

Plus basements are notoriously poor ventilation.
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Unread 10-11-2017, 09:20 AM   #7
Little.pixel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dictamnus Albus View Post
there are surf board makers that have just used dust masks or bandanas
and have been just fine
then there are those who will say you should use a full blown respirator

the way i feel about it, is if when it burns, it gives off a black smoke (sooty)
then its harmfull to breathe in (or if liquid, unless you know its water, dont trust it)

if your hot cutting, use a cartriged filter mask, if your using a sander or regular knife
or braided wire cutter, then you should be fine with even a cheap bandana (damp)
unless you have sensitivities

in general you shouldnt need a filter breather unless your effecting the material
on a chemical level, such as melting or burning

if your sanding and getting some real fine dust,
you can use a static elecric attractor to help cut down on the dust in the air
also avoid blowing the debris around, use a vacume, or static attractor

static attractor such as a sheet of ceran wrap,
hang a sheet from a clothes hanger and add small disposable weight to the bottom
and super charge it, by rubbing it with an extra dry microfiber rag
hang that above the space between you and the project

to dispose of it, bring the trash bag around the wrap and cut it free,
it defeats the purpose if you fluff dust up into the air by balling
it up and tossing it for 2 points

also, to be effective, many masks will need to be tight enough that it leaves an imprint after awhile
but if that imprint is red (or "blanched" white) and its kinda sore, then its too tight
this dosnt applt to those formed fabric masks like cheap dust masks, those are basically trash to start
sanding wood? maybe, but otherwise its either more than nessesary or more nuisance than effective
Thanks for the tips!! I never used a heat tool on it, just an xacto and sandpaper. I tried using a full blown respirator and one of those flimsy fabric masks but today I still have light chest pains when breathing in (which always freak me out). I'm guessing it's due to the bad ventilation in the room combined with all the foam dust floating around?
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Unread 10-12-2017, 08:31 AM   #8
Penlowe
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Quote:
I'm guessing it's due to the bad ventilation in the room combined with all the foam dust floating around?
Yes but you may be very sensitive to it as well. I can smell every bug spray ever made, even the "odorless" ones the Orkin man uses. And they all give me a blinding headache.

Take it outside, and if you can't try running a vacuum cleaner while you cut, just position the hose near your cutting area.

If the better respirator and vacuum don't help enough, stop using that foam. It is NOT worth your long term health! I took care of my mother in law the last year of her life. She had COPD and emphysema from smoking. The inability to breathe stops you from doing everything you love. Don't risk it.
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Unread 10-14-2017, 11:43 PM   #9
Dictamnus Albus
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depending on what your making, you might be able to switch materials
to "camping" mats or eva foam mats

http://venture-products.com/wp-conte...Collagenew.jpg
(particularly the roll on the far left, you can buy at walmart (sometimes)

https://www.harborfreight.com/anti-f...-pc-62389.html
almost always the cheapest price for these mats, they also carry the roll
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and select size options (if available) till you find one of appropiate size

disclaimer* im not an expert, i simply add in my "2 cents" having a second opinion is always a safe bet
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