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I have been helping my father in law with all kinds of work on his 68 Chevelle SS including some help with body putty which I am not accustomed to. He has a friend that used to work in a body shop way back in the day that has been supervising and doing most of the painting.

He was warning us that we should not attempt to paint the car on our own for reasons that it is dangerous if you dont know what you are doing. He stated that there were extremely carcinogenic materials in the paint and clearcoat that when aerosolized will give you cancer so he made sure we ordered him a respirator and body suit, as well as install additional ventilation in the garage.

What confused me was that he didnt bother wearing the respirator when sanding, and he didnt even wear the suit we bought him when painting. I was confused so i started googling and found certain types of older paints may contain nasty stuff but didnt get any indication that auto paint was any more dangerous than say regular spray paint that i might buy at the hardware store.

If i decide to help painting cars in the future, should I be concerned and what precautions should I take to protect my health?

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It's best to wear a mask, goggles and respirator when using any kind of spray paints (and when sanding!). The aerosolised paint has very tiny particles which will get into your lungs and are small enough to get right down into the alvioli - not good for you!

Modern paints are much safer than old ones, but you still don't want to be breathing them in if you don't have to!

There's no such thing as "will give you Cancer" - but there's certainly a likelyhood that breathing tiny paint particles will increase your risk of getting Cancer, or other respiratory problems.

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