Protective clothing is very important for printmakers who engage in etching and lithography (closed toed shoes and long pants). In the past, many printmakers did not live far past 35 to 40 years of age because of their exposure to various acids, solvents, particles, and vapors inherent in the printmaking process.
Whereas in the past printmakers put their plates in and out of acid baths with their bare hands, today printmakers use rubber gloves. They also wear industrial respirators for protection from caustic vapors. Most acid baths are built with ventilation hoods above them.
Often, an emergency cold shower or eye wash station is nearby in case of acid spillages, as well as soda ash—which neutralizes most acids. Some printmakers wear goggles when dealing with acid.
Protective respirators and masks should have particle filters, particularly for aquatinting. As a part of the aquatinting process, a printmaker is often exposed to rosin powder. Rosin is a serious health hazard, especially to printmakers who, in the past, simply used to hold their breath using an aquatinting booth.
Barrier cream is often used upon a printmaker’s hands both when putting them inside the protective gloves and if using their hands to wipe plates (wipe ink into the grooves of the plate and remove excess).
Sterile plasters and bandages should always be available to treat cuts and scrapes. For example, zinc plates can be extremely sharp when their edges are not beveled.