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Are cyano glues safe?

Read this tale and tell us what you think...

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David Ashby - Moderator27/06/2008 08:20:00
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We've received a letter from Dave Walters regarding the use of super glues/cyanoacrylates and a possible link to cyanide poisoning? Dave's letter is below and we'd like to hear what you have to say on the subject and whether you've experienced similar difficulties.

"I was modifying my plan-built Lazy Bee to add ailerons, and decided to add another spruce spar at the hinge line. I used my Dremel on high speed to cut through the hard part of the ribs where they had been glued with cyano and kicker accelerator. In some places, especially where the ribs had been capped with 1/16” balsa, I had to put a fair bit of pressure on the Dremel to bore through the solid glue build-up. I was surprised to see quite a lot of evil looking dense smoke emerge. I had my face close to the work so before I knew it I had breathed in a little of it, which was pretty unpleasant.

Some two hours later, after a couple of glasses of vino, I turned in. I was shocked to see my face in the bathroom mirror. It was pretty red, and I had two unusual bright red triangles under the bags of my eyes. My wife remarked that my ears were bright red too. But I felt OK. Good stuff, Rioja!

In the morning, we were talking about my clown like appearance, and she asked if it could have been connected to my glues. I used to do a lot of scuba diving, which included lectures on dive medicine and the effects of gases. I remembered the bit about the dangers of compressor exhaust wafting into the inlet and getting in the dive tanks, and the fact the carbon monoxide bonds readily to haemoglobin in the blood, reducing the vital flow of oxygen to all your bits. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be recognised by the fact that the victim has a bright cherry red appearance. I also remembered a debate about whether the cyano bit of the word cyanoacrylate meant that there was cyanide in the glue.

So I went on Google, and sure enough there was loads of stuff about the problems of cyanide release when cyano gets too hot such as when using a Dremel to bore through the stuff after it has set! I also discovered that cyanide makes oxygen stay in the blood rather than getting to your cells. So it works differently to carbon monoxide, but with the same result and your skin can become cherry-red! Sufferers can have general weakness, confusion, and bizarre behaviour, although that describes the normal me pretty well, so I did not notice anything else unusual.

Perhaps others, especially the chemists, medics, glue makers and glue users out there, can shed a bit more light on the subject. I have already had one other person say that they felt ill after a similar experience. In normal use, cyano seems safe. But is there a problem when it gets very hot?"

Flanker .27/06/2008 09:20:00
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Well now I am not a chemist but I am a sculptor in steel and other metals and use a well equipped workshop. The general rule of thumb in any industrial space using industrial products and processes is that ALL FUMES ARE DEADLY and that precautions should be taken  to deal with them. I have various fans to move air away from me when I am working. Generally speaking ANY workshop should have controllable ventilation, AND the correct fume masks available. I very rarely use a mask but it is good to have them there so that when  job starts to smoke badly one can avoid being gassed. Many of today's products esp paints and glues WILL give off DEADLY POISON GAS when burnt. Personally I feel that this adds to the fun, but clearly fume removal is important. As I mentioned above an ordinary oscillating fan on low will keep the air moving and in the case of Dremal smoke this, along with an open door / window Will be enough. Good for Dave bringing the subject up.   Go well   F
260 Flyer27/06/2008 09:48:00
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First off cyanide poisoning will turn you blue not red. It will first appear on the nail beds and lips and if it has got as far as turning your skin blue it is probably fatal. Many organic materials will give off cyanide when burnt not just cyanoacrylate glue, tobacco, grass and wool as well as common plastics such as polyurethane and acetonitrile.

As always common sense when working with materials that produce dust or fumes will help keep you around to fly another day.

Edit: I was formerly a First Aid and Emergency Response Team member for a gold plating facility.

Eric Bray27/06/2008 12:13:00
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How long did the symptoms last, Dave? And are you ok again now?
Les Holloway27/06/2008 14:23:00
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Cyano is by no means "safe" even in its liquid form. I'm mildly asthmatic - I don't actually "suffer" from it because I know what do avoid, which is mostly cats and similar furry creatures. But when I first started using standard cyano on model planes, breathing in the fumes was guaranteed to set me off with shortness of breath and a tight chest. Fortunately, the foam-safe versions are not so noxious, but these days I wear a vapour-proof mask whenever I use cyano of any kind.
birdy27/06/2008 15:38:00
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Oooo errrrr! Better not let mum find out about that of my cyno suppleis will soon run (run?) dry...
260 Flyer27/06/2008 15:39:00
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Luckily I don’t suffer from any ailments, but the fumes from cyano give me one hell of a sore throat!
David Walters27/06/2008 16:03:00
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Dave the Cyano kid here. I'm fine now, and felt OK at the time. The red bags under my eyes and bright red ears, ha disappeared by the morning. Maybe cyanide woks a bit like the litmus test. Red=alive. Blue=dead. The blue comment is interesting, as the word cyan apparently comes from the greek wird for blue.  And someone is said to be cyanosed if the have a blue discoloration of the skin, caused by a deficiency of oxygen in the blood. But I was RED. Shocking red! Something weird was going on!

 Have a look at http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/doctrine/army/mmcch/Cyanide.htm[i][u] [/u][/i]

It says:- 

Physical Findings: Physical findings are few and non-specific. The two that are said to be characteristic are in fact not always observed. The first is severe respiratory distress in an acyanotic individual. When seen, "cherry-red" skin suggests either circulating carboxyhemoglobin from carbon monoxide poisoning or a high venous oxygen content from failure of extraction of oxygen by tissues poisoned by cyanide or hydrogen sulfide. However, cyanide victims may have normal appearing skin and may even be cyanotic, although cyanosis is not classically associated with cyanide poisoning.

David Walters27/06/2008 16:10:00
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Yep, I'm fine now!
http://www.modelflying.co.uk/sites/3/images/member_albums/33099/Cyanide_Clown.JPG

David Walters27/06/2008 16:35:00
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In the interests of research, I am wiling to repeat some aspects of that evening's activities, and will accept test samples of fine Rioja, available at Harrods, sent to me via the editor.
David Ashby - Moderator27/06/2008 16:48:00
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We'll send on the (empty) bottles Dave
00127/06/2008 17:00:00
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When the tame cinema hero detective leans over the murder victim's face and says "He/she smells of almonds - it must be cyanide poisoning" - The reason is that almonds contain traces of cyanide, so if you eat almonds you are consuming a tiny amount of cyanide - thought you might like to know that!
andy watson27/06/2008 17:02:00
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I am unsure where you got the link from cyanide to carbon monoxide from, as chemically they are very different.

Carbon monoxide is a carbon atom bonded to an oxygen atom, and thats it.  Cyanides are actually a wide range of chemicals containing a carbon triple bonded to a nitrogen atom.  Most compounds are poisonous, some aren't.  Interestingly most people are extremely sensitive to the smell (almonds) of the most common cyanide smells and this is thought to be a genetic memory. 

Cyanide got it's name because it was used in the manufacture of prussian blue- the dye in blueprints. 

Fats Flyer27/06/2008 21:13:00
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Really, when using any chemicals , common sense is to make sure that wherever you work, ..make sure there is plenty of air circulation, this will obviously avoid breathing in all the nasty fumes
nasa_steve27/06/2008 23:10:00
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andy

   david's link is from the suggested link that he gives on his post http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/doctrine/army/mmcch/Cyanide.htm  scroll down the page to physical findings

and the only link to carbon monoxide  from what i read is the similarity in symptoms it obviously came from a medical site which i assume he copied and pasted into his reply. he does not personally seem to make any link himself between carbon monoxide and cyanide only as i say the similarity in symptoms

nasa

Jack Bagley28/06/2008 10:36:00
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Hi David,

                When cyano's first appeard on the market, we were warned to wear a face mask if the temperature rose during use in exactly the way you used yours, because of the adverese action of the gas produced. Haven't seen these warnings for some time now however! The other warning was to wear protective hand creams as a precaution against any skin contamination too! So what's going on?

I do know that I do get skin rashses on my hands if I don't use the barrier cream, and it really is irritating!. Would be interesting if someone has a definitive answer to this. Jack

260 Flyer28/06/2008 10:49:00
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Jack

If I remember correctly, the hand creams were advised to stop us sticking our fingers together. If you used enough barrier cream to avoid bonding to your skin everything you touched got contaminated and wouldn't stick either!

Plastic surgeons use cyano for tacking down skin so I would think it must be fairly safe. I never use sticking plasters, just a drop of cyano, stings like a B****d but seals the cut.

Rob

birdy28/06/2008 13:14:00
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Well theres an idea! I wonder how safe epoxy is? I personally prefere it 'cos you can get it off your hands!
Jack Bagley28/06/2008 13:31:00
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Rob,

        You are right if you don't apply the creams properly and really massage them in so there is no obvious mess on your fingers, and don't touch the parts to be joined. I've never had this problem, it's a question of thought and application. However, nowadays you can use those close fitting latex gloves, these are a godsend as you don't loose "feel" or grip and are throw away when finished with. I use them now exclusively when "sticking" and wouldn't be without them now. Also, if you are a bit sensitive to handling fuels, they are also useful for this task too! Best wishes, Jack

260 Flyer28/06/2008 14:38:00
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Jack

The funny thing is I am sensitive to latex which brings me out in tiny blisters so I use nitrile gloves which are softer and thinner than latex.

birdy

Epoxy resin is one of the worst skin irritants going! Please be careful with epoxy and read the instructions. If you do get some on you skin wash it off straight away with soap and water.

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