Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Editorial: Finecast Resin... Is It Really Safe??

There has been a lot of discussion on the internet about Games Workshop's new Finecast series of models, which are being cast from resin.

This talk ranges from cost, to detail, to availability, and to safety.

Games Workshop has been approached by many people as to the safety of the new resin models, mainly because of the fears of the toxicity of resin, being a carcinogenic product.

While I have had no direct confirmation that Games Workshop has had this new resin vetted for toxicity, and there is nothing on their website which specifically states that the resin is non-toxic, a statement HAS been made at the Games Workshop Facebook page.

Games Workshop

Also, chaps, we've spotted the odd comment about the safety of the resin. As with all our products, this has been vigorously checked. There are currently many formulations of resin used across the world. The resin material we are using for Citadel Finecast models has undergone testing by a leading international toy safety testing agency. They identified no risks to health and recommend no special precautions.

I do know Games Workshop takes the safety of their product very seriously. If they did not, they would not have switched from lead to tin pewter in the 90s.

And if they were not conscientious about safety they would not have responded so quickly to the findings of Canwest Global, a major Canadian News Network, when they discovered several years ago through independent lab tests that there were traces of lead in the yellow paint from the Warhammer Battle for Skull miniatures paint set.

From the article:

CanWest News Service chose toys for testing after speaking with 10 Canadian families with children of various ages and asking what toys their children play with or want for Christmas. The university's Earth sciences lab conducting the tests also selected several toys in order to include products with a wide range of surface materials and textures....

...The yellow paint colour in the Warhammer paint set had the highest levels of lead compared to the other toys, at 60 milligrams per kilogram, according to the lab tests.


The company that makes the Warhammer set, Games Workshop, said the yellow paint should not test for higher lead levels compared to others because the same pigment is used for other colours in the paint set. After speaking to its supplier, the company said some contamination must have occurred that resulted in the presence of lead.

The company said, "it is most probable that some form of contamination has been made" when the paint was put in containers or the containers were being filled.

The company also said it conducts its own tests and places a high priority on safety.

Due to the nature of the product, and the nature of the hobby, Games Workshop must take health and safety seriously.

But what has not been mentioned at all, anywhere I can find, to this date and time yet, is the effect of dust particles.

The health implications of inhaled dust particles are not to be trifled with. Far too long have we seen the negative effects of breathing dust in our society, through many industries (i.e coal mining, lumber mills, rock quarries, etc). Here is what the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has to say about breathing in dust, its harmful effects, and how to protect yourself.

You aren't necessarily going to be able to engineer a dust free process, not without fume hoods and other types of equipment, but that is why Games Workshop (And every other model and toy company out there making hobby supplies) must do that for us. So, in a nutshell:

Use of personal protective equipment may be vital, but it should nevertheless be the last resort of protection. Personal protective equipment should not be a substitute for proper dust control and should be used only where dust control methods are not yet effective or are inadequate.

It should go without saying, when working with any materials that give off dust, you should do what you can to protect yourself. Companies like Games Workshop, though they do what they can to ensure the materials they are putting in their products are as safe as possible, can not prevent you from exposing yourself to harmful materials through your own actions....though it would be nice to see at least a warning label suggesting that ALL dust can be harmful, and to wear dust masks when cutting, filing, or sanding.

So, when preparing any models, be they plastic, metal, or resin, or when doing things like painting with spray paint and airbrushes, be sure to do so safely. Ensure that you are minimizing the amount of dust you are creating, and controlling the flow of air to draw the dust away from you, and finally, even with all of these precautions in place, make sure you wear a good micro-filter (if not nano-filter) dust mask.

After all, our hobby is meant to be fun, and we want you all to be around for a very long time to keep the hobby alive!

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