View Full Version : Artist dies due to solvent inhalation

Chas McHugh
07-10-2017, 02:21 PM
Although this story dates back to 2010 - I have only just come across it; and it is certainly food for thought.

Artist dies after regularly spraying varnish on his paintings in a room without ventilation

Talented: Artist Govinder Nazran had won awards for his work. An award-winning artist died after a fall blamed on the effects of a varnish he sprayed on his paintings. Govinder Nazran, 44, had used the product – Brasslac – in a confined upstairs room with the wrong protective equipment, an inquest heard. His widow blamed the product for her husband suffering epileptic-type fits and a coroner ruled his misuse of the product contributed to the tragic fall that killed him.
Father-of-one Mr Nazran, of Saltaire, West Yorkshire, died from head injuries suffered when he collapsed at his home on Christmas Eve 2008. He was seen staggering and twitching before the fall, in which he suffered fatal brain injuries. An inquest in Bradford on Tuesday heard how Mr Nazran, who lived with his wife and 15-year-old daughter, had begun having fits and turned to drink after a personality change, which widow Sarah Welton blamed on the varnish he used on his oil paintings.
She described how her ‘charming man’ had changed, and had become paranoid and forgetful. He complained of headaches, and would feel cold and nauseous after using the varnish. He used the product Brasslac in a confined upstairs room, wearing a dust mask not suitable for that type of product, the inquest heard. A pattern then began to emerge of him having seizures.
His widow said Mr Nazran was in denial at first, but then agreed to take medication, although he took it sporadically because he said it dulled his senses and reduced his creativity. His wife said she threw away all the Brasslac in his studio and he did not get any more, but his health got worse and his drinking increased.
He died on December 30, 2008, in intensive care at Bradford Royal Infirmary, six days after falling. Pathologist Andrew Goldsbrough said Mr Nazran’s widow’s evidence had been ‘compelling’ and the timeline of events had been very important. ‘The history of the effect of the solvent is of relevance in terms of the underlying cause of his death,’ he said. Coroner Roger Whittaker accepted the head injuries as the cause of death, but said: ‘The underlying cause was two-fold - the chronic damage from the volatile solvent and the acute effect of the alcohol intake contributed to that final fit and fall.’
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Whittaker stressed that Mr Nazran had used the Brasslac incorrectly. He warned: ‘People using this product and similar products must be extremely careful. They must read the instructions and take precautions.’ Mr Nazran’s work was particularly popular in America and in Japan. In 2004 he became the Best Selling Published Artist in the industry's Fine Art Trade Guild Awards and he enjoyed two sell-out tours in Japan where his work was highly regarded.
He moved to Bradford as a child and studied graphic design at Bradford Art College. He became a full-time artist in 1999. Many of his paintings are considered collectables, featuring images of cartoon dogs and cats.

Chas McHugh
07-11-2017, 08:27 AM
Redistribution of low odour fumes: or fume extraction. How do you guys deal with this issue; because lets face it, in winter the windows are closed.


This fan drawing in fresh air from the small gap in the windows is the extent to which I presently work; though I have convinced myself to have a bathroom type extraction fan installed into the ceiling of the studio.

07-11-2017, 09:15 AM
I think there are some variations in solvents first and foremost. Any time you use an aerosol like the one that the article mentions, it's got to be in a really well ventilated area. I don't think a small van and a bathroom one would be sufficient to deal with those aerosols. Some brush cleaners and are not too bad but some are really potent. I think that a fair degree of caution must be exercised. I do know that many of the oil media components are considered a strong fire risk, especially the wipe rags.

For me, I always go out to the garage to varnish. It is just way too persistent to use inside. Even at that, if I take in the piece too early it still stinks up the house. Wonder if it is time to consider waxes instead?

07-11-2017, 09:15 AM
By the way, your Herc looks really good in this setting.

Chas McHugh
07-11-2017, 10:47 AM
Thanks for the comment re the C130.

There are many aspects to the story that started this thread and readers can cherry pick whatever suits their side of a debate. For me; I have taken a long overdue review of the chemicals that I am in daily contact with, and it is a horror story. I am guilty of complete nonchalance in the past, due primarily to painting on an ad-hoc basis in which any chemical contact was outweighed significantly during working hours by clean air, yet whilst in the military, I painted in my bedroom akin to a bedsit, which meant I was sleeping in the same room that had fumes within. Who hasn't used their mouth to get a point on a small brush - perhaps nobody - but I have for sure - and far too often.

There are those who disregard this story with contempt; but for me it is a valuable lesson that requires action. You cannot be paranoid when it is your health and longevity that is at stake.

07-12-2017, 03:03 AM
as I said on facebook there are too many unkowns to say for sure , drunks fall over and unfortunately he sustained a fatal head injury ,, but many scenarios in this fall way outside what we are doing ...firstly the used product isn't even a painters product it is intended as a covering for chrome or brass jewelry , therefore I'd assume a far more potent product than anything we use secondly if he'd diverged away from the norm what was he using as thinners ??? I'd make an educated guess it was more powerfull solvents than what we use ,, when you get into that territory as in car spraying with heavyweight solvents just ventilation isn't enough you are then into air fed respirators drawing air from a fresh air source ( dealt with that spraying cars at a friends garage ) ............it isn't really a problem of what we use rather a problem of him venturing away from the norm without checking the safe practices for using the product he chose ,, tried checking it out as it is an HMG product made here in Manchester and HMG do not specifically deal in art paints and most of their products are heavy duty industrial products .. although it is supplied through fred Aldous art supplies in Manchester but again it is supplied as a specialist jewelry laquer .... also it is recommended it is applied with a soft brush ,, did he thin and spray.... also it mentions he was becoming forgetful and drinking more .. one of the main causes of certain dementures is alchohol there are just too many things that were out of the ordinary in this case for it to worry people that stick to accepted normal materials .. I feel this case has many things around it that are away from the norm , but if it makes you consider safety more not necessarily a bad thing

07-12-2017, 05:43 AM
The facts speak for themselves and unless you're misusing products consistently there is very little or no risk. I only use water based materials precisely because I don't have the ability to ventilate properly and if I did start painting with oils/solvents I wouldn't be surprised if I developed things like headaches, memory loss, death.

07-17-2017, 04:02 PM
A really sad tale.

Spray-on varnishes have been mucked about with so much in recent years you never know quite how they're going to dry out; Winsor & Newton's always seems to dry with a fine 'stipple' nowadays.... I don't like that at all. Anyways, I prefer to avoid the risk of breathing the stuff in, so I brush. I haven't done any modelmaking for many years now, but I worried far more about the solvents used in that than I ever did picture-varnish. I'll maybe have to resume my modelmaking before long too, if my aeroplane paintings take off (see what I did there?)