Hazard Involved In Materials Used In The Production Of Emulsion Paint And Its Safety Measures To Human Health

Project and Seminar Material for Science Laboratory Technology SLT

Hazard Involved In Materials Used In The Production Of Emulsion Paint And Its Safety Measures To Human Health


This study investigated the hazard involved in materials used in the production of emulsion paint and its safety measures to human health. Most hazardous health effects of activities in small scale industries may not be apparent immediately, however they emerge much later in the life of the exposed individuals. One such small scale industrial activity, is spray painting in informal auto garages, popularly known in Kenya as “Jua Kali garages”. Although various disease symptoms may be associated with spray painting, respiratory and skin diseases are the major ones. The objective of this study therefore, was to establish occupational health hazards associated with spray painting in small scale auto garages in three selected locations of Embakasi division. To carry out the study, which took three months (June–August 2010), pre-tested questionnaires and checklists were administered to spray painters in the selected auto garages. Key informant individuals (KII) were interviewed to get details of disease symptoms and other issues to support the information captured by the questionnaires and checklists. A sample population of two hundred and seven spray painters was selected from small scale auto garages in the study area, their age ranged between 17-62 years, with 34% of the population being below 25 years. Half (51%) of the spray painters had been in this occupation for between 1-5 years. 65.3% of them had attained primary education, while the rest (34.7%) had secondary level of education. It was observed that, the main activities in the study garages were scraping off the old paints and spray painting. The two activities posed an exposure due to dust from old paints and over spray paint mists within the breathing zone of unprotected spray painters, and therefore data on asthmatic and bronchitis symptoms, and eye problems was collected, edited, coded and analyzed by using statistical package for social sciences (SPSS). Chi-square test of significance was used to measure association between the disease symptoms and exposure time, application methods, and amounts and types of paints. The analyzed data was presented using percentages, frequency tables and bar charts. Painters’ health seeking behaviours and presence of the disease symptoms associated with this occupation were also studied. Application methods had a significant relationship between asthmatic symptoms, (χ² = 18.72338; df = 2; p = 0.00009), but non between bronchitis symptoms (χ² = 0.055885; df = 2; p = 0.97246). Exposure time had no significant relationship between all disease symptoms in the study (asthmatic symptoms; χ² = 3.75855; df = 3; p = 0.28871, bronchitis; χ² = 6.4773; df = 3; p = 0.09056 and eye problems; χ² = 2.33641; df = 3; p = 0.50558). Types and amounts of paint also had no significant relationship between all diseases symptoms. According to the study, this was due to onset of the disease symptoms within a short duration of exposure. 85.7% and 67.3% of all the spray painters had bronchitis and asthmatic symptoms respectively, while 49.3% had eye problems. This indicated a high prevalence of disease symptoms associated with spray painting among the spray painters in the study area, who also had poor health seeking behaviours. Health hazard awareness creation among all stakeholders was recommended to ensure health and safety of workers and further research in the field, especially effectiveness of interventions.

Table of Content

  • Title Page
  • Certification
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Table of Content
  • List of Tables
  • Abstract

Chapter One:


  • 1.1 Background of the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problem
  • 1.3 Objective of the Study
  • 1.4 Research Questions
  • 1.5 Significance of the Study
  • 1.6 Scope of the Study
  • 1.7 Limitation of the Study
  • 1.8 Definition of Terms
  • 1.9 Organization of the Study

Chapter Two:

Review of Literature

  • 2.1 Conceptual Framework
  • 2.2 Theoretical Framework
  • 2.3 Empirical Review

Chapter Three:

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Population of the Study
  • 3.3 Sample Size Determination
  • 3.4 Sample Size Selection Technique and Procedure
  • 3.5 Research Instrument and Administration
  • 3.6 Method of Data Collection
  • 3.7 Method of Data Analysis
  • 3.8 Validity of the Study
  • 3.9 Reliability of the Study
  • 3.10 Ethical Consideration

Chapter Four:

Data Presentation and Analysis

  • 4.1 Data Presentation
  • 4.2 Analysis of Data
  • 4.3 Answering Research Questions
  • 4.4 Discussion of Findings

Chapter Five:

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendation
  • References

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

In rapidly developing countries, where labour is cheap and level of poverty is high, proper occupational hygiene and pollution control methods are often neglected at worksites (Gomes et al., 2017). It is worse for small factory workers where personal protective equipments are considered a luxury and rarely provided (Gomes et al., 2017). This is more common where profit margins are minimal like in small scale industries. The workers, being economically challenged accept adverse working conditions as part of their job. They do not demand hygiene measures and personal protective equipment from their employers and as result are exposed to physical and chemical pollutants (Gomes et al., 2017).

Small scale informal industries include, but not limited to, small scale auto garages which are situated along roadsides to service motor vehicles that breakdown on the roads and also in interiors of informal settlements (slums). The garage operators are low-income earners, with little or no basic education and limited knowledge of modern technology (KNBS., 2013). One of the major activities they undertake is spray painting of vehicles. This activity exposes them to paint hazards (DuPont., 2014). In Kenya, there is lack of sufficient safety information and safety magazines and/or pamphlets (Martin., 2016).

Basically paints are a mixture of pigments, solvents and other additives to enhance the performance of paint, like dryers and hardeners. Pigments and additives in paint do not dissolve completely but rather remain suspended throughout the systems to form emulsions and other paint mixtures (Turner., 2014). As most substances in paints are toxic to humans they are a health hazard to the users. The paint being a mixture of solvents, pigment and other additives, the spraying activities create paint mists that spread the volatile matters to the surrounding air. Depending on the type of the spray gun used, the pressure and the nebulizer, a high concentration of airborne contaminants is produced in vapors and is harmful to human health when inhaled (Turner., 2014). The solvent’s hazards are compounded by the fact that paints contain additives such as diisocyanates, lead and other heavy metals, which are known carcinogens and require a supply of clean air to the painter to disperse or minimize their contact (Turner, 2014) Although different individuals have different sensitivity, reactivity and irritation levels to the chemicals, even at low concentrations, many solvents and solids in paints have specific threshold limit values (TLVs) [NIOSH., 1978]., thus different exposure values and guidelines require controlled exposure monitoring to establish the appropriate and effective protection methods (NIOSH., 2014). This calls for use of protective devices when handling paints.

Paint may also come into contact with the skin if not properly protected. Although skin contact may not be a major route of exposure, it may enhance the overall 3 body exposure. When the chemicals in the paint effectively permeate the skin, the harmful pigments and other additives may be dangerous, and present adverse health effects to the painter as well (Turner., 2014).

Many disease symptoms may be caused by spray painting, but the two primary occupational diseases associated with spray painting are painter’s asthma and dermatitis (DuPont., 2014). While neither of these two have significant data to determine their risk, there is enough evidence to warrant their concern (DuPont., 2014) because chemicals, solvents, pigments and other additives in paint that become airborne in spraying operation, makes it difficult to quantify the risks based on a specific hazard assessment, though career painters tend to be more predisposed to these diseases (DuPont., 2014). Apart from the chemicals in the paint, application methods, especially the spray gun and duration of exposure, also contribute to the overall health risk.

The selection of a spray gun by a user depends on the type of object to be sprayed, cost and the operation. They range from simple hand held equipment to complicated automated gadgets. Air-assisted spraying systems known as “Air mix” are claimed to drastically reduce the spray mist, usually associated with “normal-air” assisted spray guns and overall air consumption, according to National Institute of Safety and Health of United States of America (NIOSH., 2014). Many of these spray guns are ideally used in spray booths.

In small scale auto garages this may not be the case due to non use of spray booths. Where they are available, a system called “airless” spraying may be used. It is based on atomization of coatings at a pressure of 100 to 200 atmospheres (NIOSH., 2014). The materials are brought to this pressure by a hydraulic pump usually driven by compressed air. Less air is needed in this system than in the airassisted type of spray gun, though at a higher pressure (NIOSH., 2014). Painter’s asthma and skin dermatitis being the primary diseases associated with spraypainting activities (DuPont., 2004), it confirms why good quality air around the painter is very important (NIOSH, DHHS., 2014). The study therefore, aimed at examining some occupational health hazards associated with automotive spray painting.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Exposure to hazardous chemicals of auto paints in developing countries is common (Gomes et al., 2011). Hazardous chemical exposures were common experiences in United States of America in mid 1960s, and two years before OSHA (U.S.A) enactment of 1970, 14,000 workers died each year from work related hazards and another two million were disabled or harmed (Stender., 2016). That was as a result of negligent of employers, poverty, or lack of knowledge and job skills. Due to lack of regulation, supervision and application of standards by concerned authorities, the activities in small scale industries may be occupationally hazardous (Loewenson., 1998).

It is the duty of every employee at all times to wear or use protective equipment or clothing provided by the employer for the purposes of preventing risks to his safety and health. In Kenya Small scale auto garage owners and employees have a duty to implement the above requirements but was clearly lacking. Further, it is known that the two primary occupational diseases associated with paint spray operations are asthma and dermatitis (DuPont, 2004). Dermatitis attacks the exposed skin where paint comes into contact. Asthma, which is prevalent among spray painters attacks the respiratory system and can be compounded by other existing respiratory diseases and conditions like smoking and existing allergies. This was clearly shown by the fact that, prevalence of respiratory diseases in urban areas of Kenya (asthma included), is 16.4% [KNBS (d)., 2003].

1.3 Objective of the Study

Specific objectives of this study include to:

  1. Establish how different types of application methods used affect health and safety of spray painters.
  2. Determine the relationship between painters’ exposure time (length in occupation) in the selected small-scale auto garages and, the disease symptoms associated with spray painting..
  3. Determine the amounts and types of paints used and their occupational health hazards to spray painters.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. Do different types of application methods affect health and safety of spray painters?
  2. Does period in spray painting occupation (exposure time) to auto paint affect spray painter`s health?
  3. How do different amounts and types of paints affect occupational health of spray painters?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study results are beneficial in formulation of policies on health promotion, preventive measures and safe painting procedures, which can be adopted by regulatory authorities and operators of small scale motor garages in the country. The study results are of great help to spray painters in small scale and large auto motive enterprises for making informed decisions in selection and use of protective devises. The spray painters in small scale garages are expected to change their health seeking behaviours, if the relevant authorities use these findings to create health awareness among them.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This study focuses on the hazard involved in materials used in the production of emulsion paint and its safety measures to human health. The study also covers the different types of application methods affect health and safety of spray painters, the period in spray painting occupation (exposure time) to auto paint affect spray painter`s health and the amounts and types of paints used and their occupational health hazards to spray painters

1.7 Limitations of the Study

The main limitation of this study is lack of clear legislation guidelines and close coordination of activities of small scale auto garages. The actual description of small scale auto garage or what constitutes the small scale auto garage was not clear. Lack of similar studies in the country was a limitation to this research; however data was available from research of other informal enterprises in the region like diatomite and salt mining in Nigeria. Recall bias of respondents presented a challenge to the study but was greatly minimized by the collaborative information from key informant people in the study, namely health professionals and garage owners. Many respiratory disease have similar symptoms with spray painters’ diseases, however this was also minimized by capturing the information about smoking habits and other existing among spray painters or their family history of chronic obstructive respiratory diseases like asthma and allergies.

1.8 Definition of Terms


A potential source of harm. Substances, events, or circumstances can constitute hazards when their nature would allow them, even just theoretically, to cause damage to health, life, property, or any other interest of value.


Any pigmented liquid, liquefiable, or solid mastic composition that, after application to a substrate in a thin layer, converts to a solid film. It is most commonly used to protect, color, or provide texture.


A mixture of two or more liquids that are normally immiscible (unmixable or unblendable) owing to liquid-liquid phase separation. Emulsions are part of a more general class of two-phase systems of matter called colloids.


A substance or mixture of substances that constitutes an object. Materials can be pure or impure, living or non-living matter. Materials can be classified on the basis of their physical and chemical properties, or on their geological origin or biological function.


The state of being “safe”, the condition of being protected from harm or other danger. Safety can also refer to the control of recognized hazards in order to achieve an acceptable level of risk.

1.9 Organization of the Study

This research work is categorized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows.

  1. Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), background to the study, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research questions, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms.
  2. Chapter two encompasses the conceptual review theoretical review and empirical reviews on which the study is based.
  3. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  4. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  5. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary of Findings

This section is a summary, interpretation and application of study results. The study brought out major links between exposure to, and disease symptoms associated with spray painting. Other factors known to be associated with respiratory disease symptoms such as cigarette smoking and family history of chronic obstructive respiratory diseases were considered along. This was to make sure that the disease symptoms suffered by spray painters are, most likely as a result of exposure to health hazard associated to their occupation and not other effects or at least to minimize compounding effects of external factors.

Half (50.5%) of spray painters in the study were between 25 and 34 years of age (mean 28 years) with the youngest being 17years. The Kenyan Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) of 2007 states that, persons below eighteen years of age are not supposed to be engaged in employment, if the work is likely to harm their health and safety. According to Odhiambo and Manda (2003) many children from informal settlement areas drop out of school at an early age to seek employment due to poverty. This shows that, probably many of the spray painters in the study came from such areas, and that, a good number (36%) of spray painters are single is a confirmation that many spray painters enter employment ata young age. None of the spray painters had gone beyond secondary level of education, with a big number (65%) having only reached primary level of education. Garage owners also agreed that, many people who seek employment in informal auto garages are young primary school drop outs, mainly from many informal settlements in Embakasi divisions. About a half (45%) of the spray painters in the study had worked for a period of between one and five and, only 15.5% had worked for period of ten years and above, signifying high employees turn over probably due to health hazards in the occupation. According to garage owners many of the newly employed spray painters have no formal training or job experience. When recruited, they start with minimum work of scraping old paint from vehicles in preparation for spray painting. With time and practice, they start spray painting of small patches of damaged vehicles, then progress to spray painting a whole vehicle. Majority (84.5%) of spray painters in the study are paid workers. This suggests that, garage owners are few (12%) among spray painters.

Although a good number (30.5%) of spray painters did spray painting only, a big number (65.5%) combined spray painting, spreading of filler and removal of old paint from vehicles to maximize their earnings from their work. The study shows that, almost every spray painter worked for an average of five and a half days per week; however this depended on the availability of work, which on the other hand had no fixed schedule of reporting and leaving. Removing of old paint together with general preparation of a vehicle for repaint, took an average of seven and a half hours, while the actual spray painting took an approximately three hours pervehicle. Scraping of old paint for an average of seven hours per day means that the spray painters, apart from being exposed to volatile organic solvents are also exposed to dust from the dried paint which contains a high concentrate of heavy metals like lead, cobalt and zirconium as driers (Boxal and Fraunhofer., 1977) and a host of other toxic heavy metals like chromium and cadmium which are constituents of paint pigments.

Different applications methods are used for automotive spray painting. The choice of application method primarily depended on the object to be sprayed (Heitbrink et al., 1995). Apart from the object to be sprayed, the choice of application method also defended on the cost of application equipment, which is determined by the equipment efficiency and risk of exposure to paint over spray.

The study revealed that, all the garages visited were using compressed air conventional spray guns. The compressed air conventional spray gun has a spray technique deposition efficiency of 25-35%, while a high-volume; low-pressure (HVLP), also known as “airless” spray guns have an efficiency deposition of 65% (Heitbrink., et al 1996). It is also known that maximum deposition efficiencies for “airless” and electrostatic spray painting equipment are 65-70 % and 80% respectively (Lansink et al., 1997). High-volume, low-pressure spray guns are more efficient than conventional spray guns. They can cause particulate overspray concentration to be reduced by a factor of two (compared to conventional spraygun), while spray painting gun efficiency increases by 30% (Heitbrink et al., 1995).

According to the study, these spray guns are more expensive than the later, and many informal garage owners may not afford them owing to their low earnings (Hagerlund., 2006). As spray painting gun efficiency increases, the painter uses less paint and there is more proportionate decrease in worker exposure (Heitbrink et al., 1995). If the garage owners were to change the spray guns from conventional types, probably this may bring the exposure down and reduce the amount of auto-refinishing paint used and, the health hazards associated with auto spray painting. Spreader application method is different from spray guns. It is small hand-held equipment (usually plastic or metal) for spreading filler paint on surfaces (substrate). The proportion of use of spreader method is 24%, compared to 68% of spray gun in the study area. Although the use of spray gun is more than three times that of spreader, in some instances of disease symptoms such asthma, more spray painters (73.8%) who use filler which is applied by spreader suffer from them than those who use auto-refinishing type of paint (71.4%). This probably is due to proximity of spreader to spray painter’s face (Breathing zone of spray painter).

Application methods have a direct bearing on spray painters’ disease symptoms. Asthmatic symptoms are negatively affected by all application methods; χ² = 18.72338; df = 2; p = 0.00009, suggesting that the asthmatic symptoms suffered 70 are dependent on the method of application used. Also for eye problems; χ² = 9.32022; df = 2; p = 0.00947, indicates a significant relationship between eye problems and application method. In bronchitis case unlike asthma and eye problems, the results show that there is a no significant influence of method of application. The results of test of significance for bronchitis symptoms; χ² = 0.055885; df = 2; p = 0.97246, shows that there was no significance relationship between method of application and bronchitis symptoms. This suggests that spray painters can alter the risk of asthmatic symptoms and eye problems by changing from one application method to another. According to the spray painters in the study, these two symptoms (asthmatic, especially wheezing of chest and watery eyes) occur shortly after exposure indicating the effects/severity of volatile organic solvents on the target organs/areas. The type of spray guns (conventional compressed air type of spray gun) exclusively used in the informal auto garages in the study area seems to contribute more to the increased exposure.

The mass deposited on the painter from the resulting overspray is influenced by environmental factors such as droplet evaporation and air movement (Lansink et al., 1997) which have a direct effect on the transmission of overspray to worker’s body. Also worker-depended factors such as posture and worker’s orientation to the free stream of air flow will have an effect on emission of paint onto the skin and outer clothing (Lansink et al., 1997). The above statements, suggests that the volatility (VOCs) of paints have more effect on lungs, were exchange of gases take place rather than irritate the mucous membranes.

On the other hand, bronchitis symptoms affected the spreader users more than those using the spray gun. It seems like chemicals in filler were irritating the respiratory (bronchial membranes) mucous membrane and causing more dry and productive cough (bronchitis symptoms) than breathlessness and wheezing of chest (asthmatic symptoms). This is true because filler paste has less volatile organic solvents (VOC) compared to auto-refinishing, undercoat or clear varnish.

The length of exposure had no signicance relationship between the disease symptoms associated with spray painting, such as asthmatic symptoms; χ² = 3.75855; df = 3; p = 0.28871, bronchitis symptoms; χ² = 6.4773; df = 3; p = 0.09056) and eye problems; χ² = 2.33641; df = 3; p = 0.50558. While this is true statistically, the proportions of spray painters suffering from disease symptoms increased with the number of years of work. The percentage of spray painters suffering from asthmatic symptoms increased from 45.5% for working for one year or less to, 65.6% for working between one to five years, 68.8% for six to ten, to a maximum of 76.7% for above ten years. For bronchitis, it was 63.6% for one year or less, and up to a maximum of 90.6% for between six to ten years, while for eye problems it was the same case, from 45.5% for one year or less to 60% for above ten years. From the study, it can be suggested that, since a big number(45.5%, 63.6% and 45.5% for asthma, bronchitis and eye symptoms respectively) of spray painters suffer from disease symptoms associated with spray within the first year in their occupation, the long exposure time did not change the risk of suffering from disease symptoms associated with spray painting.

5.2 Conclusion

The study came up with the following conclusions:

  1. The population at risk of ill health effects of spray paint exposure were young people (34% of the spray painters were below 25 years).
  2. Only one type of spray gun, compressed air type was in use in the small scale auto garages in the study area, which according to the study has a very low paint deposition efficiency and highest potential for exposure due to paint over spray it creates.
  3. It was observed that spray painters in the study were using little or no form of protection while engaged in spray painting activities and concluded that, this lack of protection was increasing exposure time (actual time in contact with auto paint), which increased the likelihood of contracting disease symptoms associated with spray painting.
  4. The increase in the amounts and types of paints used in the study contributed to overall exposure and subsequent development of various diseases symptoms associated with spray painting. This concluded that different types and amounts of paints used had a negative health effects on the spray painters.
  5. The study confirmed the presence, and association between spray painting activities and, asthmatic symptoms, bronchitis symptoms, eye problems and dermatitis. It was therefore concluded that the high proportion of spray painters suffering from various disease symptoms associated with spray painting was due to presence of health hazards associated with spray painting occupation
  6. The study also revealed that spray painters in small scale informal auto garages in the three locations in Embakasi division had poor health seeking behaviors. According to the study, they rarely consulted a health professional or visit health facilities when suffering from the diseases symptoms associated with spray painting activities

5.3 Recommendation

  1. Change of type of spray gun used, that is, compressed air type to other types such as high volume low pressure (HVLP) or electro-deposition spray gun which have less overspray
  2. Reduce exposure time by using interventions such as personal protective equipment properly and consistently, and also use of safe work procedures. The reduction of exposure time and amount of paint used will also reduce the burden of diseases associated with spray painting
  3. Reduce the amount of paint used by using methods with high paint deposition efficiency such high volume low pressure (HVLP) and electro-deposition methods that use less paint for the same work.
  4. Spray painters to seek medical interventions immediately they see signs and/or symptoms of diseases associated with spray painting and follow health professional’s advice, and avoid self medication
  5. Public awareness and preventive programs to be carried out in the workplaces where spray painting is done.
  6. Development of training manuals and programmes for spray painters and garages operators in small scale informal (jua kali) garages, to ensure some competence in the industry.

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