We come into contact with hazardous materials every day but there are some that we use in and around our models that you should be particularly careful about.
10.1 Carbon (and sometimes boron) fibre
This is regularly used as strengthening and structural material in models. These fibres, when stressed or fractured give off clouds of ultrafine microscopic fibres which are immune to your lungs’ natural cleansing mechanism. Long term exposure may have very serious consequences. ‘Stressed or fractured’ carbon fibre could be found when you are repairing a model but it is also found when cutting and sanding new material. Whenever working with such material, always wear an appropriate mask. Cut over clean white paper. When finished, fold the paper and dispose of carefully. Vacuum the work surface and your hands regularly. When finished, always wash your hands initially in COLD water.
10.2 Kevlar fibres
May also give long term problems so equal care should be taken if using this material. If any model aircraft is built or repaired using composite materials or parts then it is essential to be particularly diligent in picking up any debris after a crash or mid-air collision. Composite shards do not degrade quickly and can be a dangerous hazard in and on the ground for many years
10.3 Cyanoacrylate glues (superglues)
These are well known for causing severe allergic reactions in some people and such reactions can build up over time. Work in a well ventilated area, avoid breathing superglue fumes and, if necessary, wear a fume proof mask and eye protection. Superglue fumes may be absorbed through the tear ducts. Superglue ‘kicker’ is also known to cause adverse reactions on occasions so care should be taken when using that too.
10.4 Epoxy and polyester resins
These are also known to build up allergic reaction in some people over time. It is likely that the main culprit is the fumes given off by the products as they cure so it is important that you heed the advice to work in a well ventilated area.
This is fairly safe to store in a cool place and out of sunlight. However, it is a poison and the ingestion of even small quantities can be dangerous. Don’t let it stay on your skin if you spill any.
An increasingly used fuel and the ease with which its vapour ignites make it one to be very careful with. A small spark can lead to a big explosion. Don’t store it or try to transfer it between containers indoors. This is one where working outdoors is essential advice.
10.7 Smoke Systems.
Some of the oils used in model aircraft smoke systems are known to be carcinogenic when burnt and all of them are irritants to varying degrees, even the purer types. Smoke should only be used when the wind is blowing away or at least along the pits / flightline area and there is no possibility of the smoke cloud being blown over pilots or spectators.