One key way in which the painting industry has changed to highlight an emphasis on health is the introduction of water-based paints. Water-based enamels are non-toxic and a good alternative to oil-based paints which were widely used in the past. Water-based paints are also Low VOC, or containing less “Volatile Organic Compounds”. VOCs are harmful as they reduce indoor air quality, leading to difficulty breathing, nausea, and other undesirable side effects.
Mirka is one of the multiple brands placing an emphasis on the health and safety of its customers. They are the pioneers of dust-free solutions and offer dustless tools suitable for all your sanding needs. Their products are high-quality and ideal for a range of needs such as construction or painting purposes.
Why is dust harmful to your health?
You may be wondering why Mirka has taken such a focus on dustless tools. What’s the harm in a bit of dust? Well - there are quite a few harmful side effects that come along with dust exposure! Sanding paint creates a lot of fine dust which can be easily inhaled and irritate your eyes and breathing tubes. Even worse, the dust may contain harmful substances such as lead, chromium, and abrasives from sanding disks. Definitely not something you want to inhale!
Types of dust
- Silica dust
Silica dust is particularly harmful. It is released as fine dust, 100 times smaller than a grain of sand. These fine grains can remain dust-born for hours and penetrate deep into the lungs. Unfortunately, there is no treatment to reverse this damage, so it is vital to minimize exposure to this dust to avoid long-term health implications.
- Lead dust
Lead-based paint is often found in older buildings. Exposure to its dust over time can lead to lead-poisoning, which is a particular risk for young children. Lead poisoning can involve serious symptoms such as developmental delays and neurological changes. To avoid such harmful side effects, it’s particularly important to minimize exposure to this dust.
- Timber dust
- Asbestos dust
What makes Mirka stand out on the market?
One of the features that make Mirka’s sanders particularly unique is the sanding paper they use. In general, sanding paper has up to 15 holes - whilst Mirka has a whopping 1000! This means that you can achieve a much more consistent scratch pattern and not have to worry about constantly replacing the sandpaper.
Sanders are notoriously noisy but Mirka’s expert design means it is very quiet. It also has low vibration, meaning that it is comfortable to use. This is particularly important for painters or plasterers who will be sanding for long periods of time. It is also very lightweight and compact, meaning that it can be easily transported in vans and around the worksite.
Mirka’s Leros Sander is the first sander in the world to feature a pivoting head. This means that you can reach up to great heights and sand straight down the wall without having to adjust your body. Using this sander also allows you to achieve Level 5 surface preparation - leaving you with no scratch pattern and an ultra-smooth finish.
How does a dustless sander work?
Did you know that you can use a sander without being exposed to harmful dust? Mirka’s dustless sander makes this easy. It all starts with Mirka’s Abranet. It is a net abrasive containing thousands of holes, providing unmatched dust extraction. There is also a wide range of options to choose from depending on your needs, such as aluminum oxide, ceramic or silicon carbide grains - ranging from very coarse to fine grits. They also offer sandpaper and sanding films, Iridium and Novastar with hole patterns designed specifically for ultimate dust extraction.
Festool is a German-made brand specialising in high-quality construction tools with an emphasis on “healthy working”. Like Mirka, Festool aims to reduce painter’s exposure to hazardous dust. Their tools can be used with various types of dust including microscopic, small, and large particles.
The Importance of Dust Safety
Both Mirka and Festool emphasise the importance of dust safety. According to Festool, thousands of Aussies are exposed to hazardous dust every day, due to poor work practices and inadequate equipment. Particularly problematic is the fact that prolonged exposure can lead to life-threatening illnesses such as Silicosis and lung cancer. Just because you are unable to see it, doesn’t mean that it can’t do harm. Therefore it’s important to know how to correctly handle hazardous dust in the workplace.
How to work safely with hazardous dust
Festool’s Hazardous Dust brochure outlines a number of steps painters can take to work safely in circumstances where they may be exposed to hazardous dust.
- Ensure proper protective equipment. You should ensure that you have a respiratory dust mask to protect your respiratory system, as well as personal protective equipment.
- Use local exhaust ventilation. This includes a plug saw with on-tool extraction and a grinding hood or shroud.
- Choose the right dust extractor. Festool has a wide range of dust extractors depending on the materials you are working with and the level of protection you require.
- Best practice. It is best to choose applications that minimise dust. Use wet cutting where necessary, and avoid the use of hazardous materials.
- The last step is key - safe waste disposal! When you’re working with hazardous dust, you must dispose of it using dust bags which should be sealed for safe disposal.
Lead-based paint dust solutions
Home renovations can create lead paint hazards even if you don’t realise it. Old paint may contain lead which must be handled correctly as it can be hazardous to your health. As we mentioned earlier, a build-up of lead in the body over months and years can lead to lead poisoning. To minimise the risk, the Festool Random Orbital Sander has been designed for use in large coarse sanding, fine sanding, and polishing tasks. By connecting the sander with a Festool dust extractor, you can ensure safe handling of dust.
Asbestos Dust Solutions
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral typically found in rock, sediment, or soil. It was widely used in different products before the dangers of asbestos were discovered. Festool’s H class dust extractors are designed for the safe and efficient removal of asbestos. These dust extractors feature high-power suction turbine and 99.95% filtration, to protect your health.
Mirka vs Festool - How do they compare?
Now that we’ve given you a run-through of both brands, it’s time to explore the interesting question - how do they compare? Although they are similar in their health-conscious goals, three are a few notable differences between the two. If you’re looking to purchase from one brand but aren’t quite sure which to go for - read on!
Comparing the Mirka Leros Sander and the Festool Easy Sander, you’ll find a weight difference of 0.9kg. The Mirka weighs in at 3.4kg whilst the Festool is 4.5kg. This difference may be significant if you’re looking for the most portable sander. If you’re going to be sanding the whole day, this difference might be important!
When it comes to surface preparation, Mirka may be your best option if you’re looking to achieve Level 5. When using a Festool sander, you have to keep it constantly moving otherwise you may be left with circular marks on the wall.
The Mirka sanders stand out significantly when it comes to usability. Unlike most other sanders on the market, they are low noise which makes them far more comfortable to use for longer periods of time. They also are low in vibration, creating a more comfortable experience for the user. Overall, in terms of usability, Mirka has multiple features that set it apart from Festool.
Both Mirka and Festool aim to protect the health of their users by minimising their exposure to harmful dust. Mirka offers a better user experience with less vibration and noise which makes using it for a long period of time more comfortable. However, there are other things that you may want to consider, such as price - Mirka’s sanders tend to be slightly more expensive than Festool’s. We hope that this guide was useful in giving you a run-down between the two brands, feel free to leave your questions or comments in the comment section below.