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Old 08-10-2009, 02:14 PM
anotherartstudent anotherartstudent is offline
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the dreaded turpentine allergy

I began painting in oils last summer I used turpinoid (unnatural) and linseed oil as my solvents. then about 4 months later I began using gamasol (natural) and linseed oil and experienced what my doc called a allergic reaction. My breathing was fine but I had hives on my face and legs along with a burning sensation on my feet. Since then i have been taking Zyrtec, and switched back to turpinoid and linseed oil and have had mild flare ups. I was wondering if any one on the forum knows how to deal with these allergies? Any homeopathic cures? Is it the turps the linseed oil or a combination thereof? I have a bottle of damar varnish but am terrified to open it. this is very important to me as I wanted oil painting to be my major for my bachelor's degree.

Last edited by Rose Queen : 08-11-2009 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:37 PM
sidbledsoe sidbledsoe is offline
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Re: the dreded turpintine allergy

First I am sorry to hear about your sensitivity. I would not hope for a "cure" other than removing the source of your problem. From what you have described it seems likely to me that the source is the odorless mineral spirits.
In spite of being called "odorless" they do still emit fumes, albeit at a lower level than mineral spirits or turpentine, hence I would not be to hopeful that damar will be any better. You do have some options available though. First I would begin by trying solvent free oil painting. This is searchable here on the forum and on the web. Just oil can be used or certain mediums like grahams walnut alkyd. Or water soluble oils may work for you.
It is possible that you may even get headaches using only linseed oil or walnut oil based painting. Some are so sensitive that even a non-hazardous smell can cause problems, all it has to be is obnoxious to you. I don't believe the experts even know exactly why, but it sometimes is the case.
I hope you can identify the exact source(s) of your problem and will be able to mitigate it by avoiding the culprit yet still oil paint, good luck.
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:40 AM
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matthewstiles matthewstiles is offline
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Re: the dreded turpintine allergy

you're either allergic to linseed oil, or Mineral spirits, not turpentine as there is no turps in the products you mentioned. (OK there is in the damar but you've not used it.)

the only things to do are to narrow down what is actually causing the reaction. I'd try solvent free first, if the allergies persist you're allergic to linseed oil and need to switch to poppy or walnut based paints. If it's the solvents start keeping a lid on it whenever possible, wear nitrile gloves, and use little to no solvents. Also try switching to spike oil for the solvent, or turpentine. It is possible to be allergic to spirits but not those.
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:33 AM
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Re: the dreded turpintine allergy

The only way around something like this is avoidance. But I agree, you need to figure out exactly what it is you are allergic too, gamasol is odderless mineral spirts, I am not sure about turpinoid, but it maybe too since it is a petroleum based product. Some people are allergic to linseed oil, but this is unlikely. There are ways to work without solvents, for an example you can use walnut oil as sid mentioned. There has been threads on this in the past. One other possibility is to use water soluble oil paint.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:27 AM
Ribera Ribera is offline
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Dreaded Turpentine Allergy. . .

8/11/09, quote from rltromble:
Quote:
. . . Gamsol is odderless mineral spirits. I am not sure about Turpenoid. . .
While they might be labeled oderless, and you might not smell them, all solvents dissolve;
that's their appeal, they expedite drying, dissolve more slowly,
however, you still must breath 'em in somewhat.
Of course, many do paint quite well sans solvents.
And as far as linseed oil is concerned, I believe most paints are ground
in that, so if you do indeed even have one of these allergies, see a doctor.
I'm not a doc, but a prescription just might eradicate those symptoms.
r.
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Old 08-11-2009, 01:05 PM
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Re: Dreaded Turpentine Allergy. . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ribera
And as far as linseed oil is concerned, I believe most paints are ground
in that...

It's true that linseed oil is the most common, but there are paints ground in other oils, such as poppyseed or walnut. M.Graham's entire line of paints uses walnut oil. Each of the painting oils has different qualities, so you might do a little research to find what you think might work best for you. Although linseed oil is typical today, the painters of the past used walnut oil and other oils, and in fact, some say walnut oil is superior to linseed oil anyway because it has less of a tendency to yellow. So the need to make some adjustments could conceivably work to your advantage. And as others have mentioned, there are other solvents you might try, such as spike lavender oil, or you could go solventless.

One other thing you probably should look at is ventilation. Are you working in a well-ventilated area? Do you have the same symptoms working out of doors? If not, perhaps improving the ventilation of your work space could resolve your problem. There are mechanical studio ventilators you can buy. They're pretty pricey, but if improving the ventilation seems to significantly reduce or remove your symptoms, it might be worth it.

At any rate, at this point, it doesn't seem that you'll necessarily need to give up oil painting if you're willing to make a few adjustments depending on what it is that's causing the reaction. sidbledsoe and matthewstiles offered some good advice for how to go about determining what it is specifically that's bothering you. Good luck to you.
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Old 08-11-2009, 03:05 PM
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Re: the dreded turpintine allergy

It would be best to figure out what you are allergic to. An allergist can conduct a controlled test (or challenge, as they call it) in the office. Allergies can increase in severity with repeated exposure, so it is best not to rely on a pill to prevent recurrence of symptoms. Since the offensive gases are absorbed by the lungs & skin, a full hazmat suit is the only real prevention outside of avoidance. You still have some options open; if all else fails, there is always egg tempera, a medium just as luminous as oil paint, if not more so!
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Old 08-11-2009, 03:34 PM
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Re: the dreded turpintine allergy

It seems that one possibility that would be easy to try would be to work without solvents on the next painting or two. Just work straight out of the tube. Clean up with soap and water.

If you are still having problems, then a visit to an allergist is probably in order to see if you are reacting to some or all of the oils.

Hope you find a solution.

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Old 08-11-2009, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anotherartstudent
...gamasol(natural)...
Gamsol?

Quote:
Originally Posted by anotherartstudent
i was woundering if any one on the forum knows how to deal with these allergies? any homeopathic cures?
...
this is very important to me as i wanted oil painting to be my major for my bacholors degree.
Avoidance is pretty much the only solution I'm afraid.

If it turns out to be the mineral spirits and they are a critical part of your painting process then you'll have to try using a quality respirator with the right kind of cartridge for solvent vapours and wear it religiously around your palette and the solvents (as well as possibly your paintings, while they are drying).

Quote:
Originally Posted by anotherartstudent
i have a bottle of damar varnish but am terrified to open it?
You'd be right to be cautious about this. If it's made from genuine dammar (some aren't) it would be dissolved in real turps, which is very likely going to cause you reactions at least as bad as you've already experienced, if not worse.

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Old 08-11-2009, 05:48 PM
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Re: the dreaded turpintine allergy

I would be incline to say switch to water soluable oils. Rather do that than to even take a chance with an allergic reaction of such a nature.
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Old 08-11-2009, 07:16 PM
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Re: the dreaded turpentine allergy

A respirator does not provide complete protection against allergic reaction to hydrocarbon fumes since the fumes are absorbed not only by the lungs but also by the largest organ of your body, your skin.
As one who ended up in the ER with hives in the throat (from a weaving project) I advise the most cautious approach. It might mean you have to stay out of university painting studios where turps and other volatile solvents are being used. You always have other options.
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Old 08-11-2009, 07:44 PM
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Re: the dreaded turpentine allergy

Quote:
Originally Posted by karenlee
A respirator does not provide complete protection against allergic reaction to hydrocarbon fumes since the fumes are absorbed not only by the lungs but also by the largest organ of your body, your skin.
As one who ended up in the ER with hives in the throat (from a weaving project) I advise the most cautious approach. It might mean you have to stay out of university painting studios where turps and other volatile solvents are being used. You always have other options.

A miserable and scary thing to endure !!!!
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:51 PM
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Keith Russell Keith Russell is offline
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Re: the dreaded turpentine allergy

Gamsol is Gamblin's brand of "odourless" mineral spirits. OMS are called "odourless" because they evaporate at a much slower rate than turpentine, thus there is much less vapour in the air, and much less for the nose to smell.

There is still a distinct odour to OMS.

OMS have a higher flash point than turpentines, and are not absorbed through the skin (which turps do). OMS are still toxic, though.

Turpenoid is a type of OMS; Turpenoid Natural is something else. It is made with fruit peel (among other things) and is listed as non-toxic...
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Old 08-12-2009, 01:07 AM
anotherartstudent anotherartstudent is offline
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Re: the dreaded turpentine allergy

well i certinly got loads of information from all of you thank you so much for responding.im pretty hard headed and it took me alot to get to the point i am today so im going to try to keep oil painting your suggestions and facts helped me write a plan of action for those interested here it goes,
1. try to cure my self with grape seed oil (the ediable kind)
2. paint a solvent free painting (the linseed oil issue)/call allergist
3. try the different oils and bonifide turpentine
4.switch medium
5. i just dont think i could do the mask thing and anyways i chain smoke.
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Old 08-12-2009, 08:28 AM
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Re: the dreaded turpentine allergy

Quote:
Originally Posted by anotherartstudent
anyways i chain smoke.

It's a bad idea to smoke and paint at the same time, you greatly increase the risk of igniting your solvent, or of ingesting paint.
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