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Spray Tanning Ventilation Requirements

Taking Every Available Measure to Reduce Solution Inhalation

This page has all the information to make a professional decision about the ventilation of your spray tanning area. It explains technical ratings and describes common fan specifications and filter standards. The main goal of this page is to allow you as a technician to be educated enough to make wise decisions allowing the proper measures to be taken to reduce tanning solution inhalation.

Ventilation Overflow

A common question for tanning technicians is how big of an area do you need to offer a spray tanning service? The simple answer would seem to be an area large enough so you, your client and all the equipment needed can fit comfortably, maybe a space needed for a shower or smaller bathroom. However, there is a major limiting factor many people don't think about when choosing their set-up area - ventilation. Enough space is needed to allow proper airflow so the work area is not stuffy from tanning mist and overspray. Proper ventilation is also a necessity for the health of you and your client, as DHA is only FDA approved for external application. It is essential to take every available measure possible to reduce the inhalation of spray mist.

The major factors affecting ventilation are air filtration, protective gear, equipment utilization, equipment settings, and spray technique.

Air Filtration

The Tanning Store offers three options for overspray removal and air filtration. You may also consider a HEPA filter as a supplementary room air cleaner. These tend to become clogged too easily to serve as a primary overspray reduction device.

Norvell Overspray Reduction Booth

The Norvell® Overspray Reduction Booth utilizes an overspray mist extraction system, comprised of 4 high-capacity fans. The extraction fans pull excess solution away from your client and into the Overspray Reduction Filtration System. The Norvell Overspray Reduction Booth is designed for high traffic settings.

Standard Extraction Fan

For the budget minded, The Tanning Store offers a Professional Overspray Reducing Extraction Fan, which is an adapted commercial box fan that incorporates a filter. It has a built-in filter holder and includes a pleated starter filter. We recommend a replacement filter with a MERV rating of at least 8 for good air cleaning performance.

MERV Rating

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and measures how effective a mechanical filter removes particles of a given size. The MERV rating scale represents the worst case performance of a filter and ranges ratings from 1 to 16, a rating of 16 capturing the greatest number of particles.

MERV RatingEfficiency RatingParticle SizeContaminant Example
1-4 >= 20% 10.0 microns pollen, dust mites, coarse dust
5-8 20-35% 3.0-10 microns mold spores, hair spray
9-12 40-75% 1.0-3.0 microns fine dust, fumes
13-16 80-95% .3-1.0 microns bacteria, tobacco smoke
17-20 =< 95% =< .3 microns combustion smoke, free virus

Box fans are capable enough to filter a large room, so the additional restriction of a MERV higher than 8 is usually insignificant. We do not recommend the use of standard flat fiberglass furnace filters or reusable filters because of their characteristically low MERV rating. The label of being "electrostatic" is not in itself an indicator of how well it will perform at liquid filtration, but disposable electrostatic pleated filters are quite good for tanning purposes, having a rating of 11 on the MERV chart.

HEPA Filter Air Cleaners

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Absorbing (or Arrestance) and these filters are designed to remove 99.7% or all airborne pollutants .3 microns or larger (this includes tobacco smoke). MERV values are not assigned to HEPA filters, although their performance is comparable with superior MERV-rated filters. If a HEPA filter is considered, we suggest a unit that utilizes a washable pre-filter and a carbon filter with the included HEPA filter. As the HEPA filter will have a higher cost than a standard box fan filter, this trio of filters working jointly will extend the life of the HEPA filter. The best role for a HEPA filter is as a secondary room air purifier, while an extraction fan or tower is better suited for the primary task of bulk overspray removal. If you do decide to make use of a HEPA filter for your tanning, be aware of the Clean Air Delivery Rate.

CADR Rating

The CADR, or Clean Air Delivery Rate, is a measure of how well an air cleaner reduces pollutants. Box fan models do not quite this statistic because of the consistency in the vast quantity of air it moves, compared to a HEPA filter that is designed to target smaller pollutants and particles but work better in a smaller area. In general, box fan units work at the rate of speed it has been set to while HEPA filtration fans adjust speed according to the impurities sensed in the immediate air around the unit.

The AHAM (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers) seal lists 3 CADR numbers, usually printed on the box of the fan: one for tobacco smoke, one for pollen and one for dust. The higher these numbers, the quicker the unit filters the air. Also listed is a CADR seal indicating the area of space in which the filtration system will be effective, this number can also be roughly calculated:

CADR = Square Footage x 0.75
12'x 12'= 144 square feet
144 x 0.75 = 108
CADR Required = 108

Protective Gear

The single most important step that can be taken to ensure a safe ventilation requirement is to use an effective air cleaner. Next select equipment and procedures that minimize overspray -- this will have the side benefit of saving you money in solution costs and not over-applying to your client. Protective accessories include masks, nose plugs, lip balm, goggles, and disposables. We recommend that the technician wear a mask and that the customer be offered nose plugs. The client should apply lip balm to protect the lips, since the lips are not technically an external application. The eyes can be protected by eye goggles or even the UV eye protectors used by tanning bed users. Disposables or the clients underwear or swimwear can protect the epithelial tissue of genitals. But the genital area should not be sprayed for aesthetic or health reasons.

Equipment Settings

Common sense here advises to follow the recommended settings for both the equipment and solution being used. But airbrush users may find these standard settings a bit tough to follow as the airbrush is a fairly low-pressure device that is not especially susceptible to overspraying. An equipment set-up can utilize as much as an 8 psi range while still producing an acceptable atomization of spray. At the top of this range, additional overspray is being produced but the spray pattern has not broken down to being a 'cloud' of tanning mist. At the bottom of this range, overspray is minimal but the spray pattern is only just above inadequate atomization. Optimal atomization for spray tanning is reached as a mutual relationship is found between application technique and an equipment psi setting.

HVLP Overspray Myth

The myth of HVLP not producing overspray could not be further from the truth. Some technicians wrongly believe that a overspray collection system is not required for HVLP spray tanning setups. While HVLP systems do quite well on "Material Transfer Rate" statistics, meaning that a high amount of solution is transferred to the intended object while minimizing wasted spray, the benchmark set for this test is only a 65% target rating. LVLP systems do not fair much better, as they have only slightly better ratings than HVLP units.

So, even in the ideal case, HVLP material transfer rates mean 25-35% of the spray is wasted. But these statistics also assume transfer to a large, flat surface and great coverage technique. HVLP spray tanning on a body with a hurried "2 Minute Tan mindset" execution can calculate closer to only a 60% successful target mark. Many HVLP technicians carry the mentality of performing a speedy application at the expense of solution waste and final tan quality. This hurried technique requires up to an 8 inch spray pattern with fleeting passes across the body, creating an incredible 40% estimated amount of overspray. All spray tanning setups should include an adequate ventilation/filtration system.

Air Quality

No matter what method of spray tanning is used, no matter what size room the set-up is in, it is incredibly important to your clients and yourself to employ the best ventilation units possible.

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