Hi again guys , I have just noticed the warning on my accelerator , that calif. has found it to cause cancer and birth defects ! I have been using it daily for years , is there a safe type ? Mine is Z*P brand .

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EVERYTHING causes cancer in California

But if you want a substitute, baking soda lightly dusted on the surfaces before application or a tablespoon dissolved in a cup of warm water as a spray will work

Yeah, we're really good at sticking warnings on everything under the sun but never actually get around to telling you exactly which of the chemicals in what quantity is really the issue. I doubt that anyone has ever specifically tested CA accelerator in this manner so it's probably a general warning that is always included with one of the chemical involved. 

Interesting thing on the "causes cancer" angle. I read a bit in a Scientific American several years ago in which a professor in Biology pointed out that Oranges contain something like 25 carcinogens. He said it's not possible to ingest anything made with orange without ingest most of them in some quantity. His point was that we are exposed to cancer causing agents much more that most of us realize and that most of us don't get cancer from foods like oranges because our system have processes that deal with most of them already. In the case of foods, our body's strip out most of the cells lining our digestive track every few days or so and any cells that might have been trouble are gone.

It's not a bad idea to know what's going into the stuff we use but California's a bit of a "Chicken Little" screaming that the Sky is falling sometimes.  The warning probably is real but doesn't do more than say something might not be good for you. As Jeff said; "EVERYTHING causes cancer in California."  

 I kinda figured something like this the first time I came in contact with the stuff. When being stored, it is  double bagged in my shop, AND if I have to use it, I hold my breath and move away from that area. There have been times I could still smell it hours later too. It is certainly not a 'good' chemical... 

Baking soda is associated with cancer also.  Studies show that every person who has ever suffered from cancer has at some time ingested some of it.  That is a 100% correlation.  Compare that the number of cancer sufferers who have ever used CA accelerator?  There you go - does that make you feel reassured?  But maybe we need some big $ NIH grants to be given out to luthiers to do a proper trial of this question. 

Hah , wow Mark ! you really turned this discussion on its head . But I get a whiff of reality . Thanks everyone .

Yes, well,it appears none of you guys are in remission.   I tend to treat warnings about what almost killed me twice with a little more that sarcasm and flippancy these days.  

One thing I do know for sure is that cancer cures stupidity.


Russell, I am sure that everybody feels for what you have gone through. and for sure nobody would ever dream of making light about the disease itself's just that so many different  products have been alleged to cause cancer over the past decades that it is inevitable that people start to become sceptical about these "scientific findings".

This is a subject which has  intrigued me deeply  for many years.

As far as I am concerned there are three things which can indisputably  be said to actually cause cancer:

  • excessive exposure to radiation
  • smoking
  • excessive inhalation of mineral or organic dust.   

Outwith  these, it becomes a matter of statistical association, and some of the associations are tenuous in the extreme IMO.   

My own, totally unscientific take, which is nonetheless based on my interaction with many families over several  decades, is that one either has or has not a genetic predisposition to contract cancer. I have observed that the norm is that families either have no record of cancer deaths over three generations, or else they experience more than one incidence of cancer.

As I say, this is my own opinion, but it could very easily be verified or disproved if any scientific body were to undertake  the research.

Again, all best wishes for your continued remission.   



Personally, I haven't had cancer but I lost my brother to colon cancer 10 years ago. I spent the last 6 weeks of his life caring for him. I lost my mother to lymphoma 2 years ago. I was in the room when both died. I take cancer very seriously. 

I wasn't trying to be flip about cancer, just about the bombardment of almost useless health warnings we Californians are subjected to. When I see warnings I take precautions but if I took them too seriously, I couldn't even fill my gas tank. The label on my deodorant says that I need to check with my doctor before using it if there is any chance that I might have kidney disease. The unfortunate truth is that these "warning" have little to do with a concern for our health and are all about avoiding litigation. If there even a hint that a product might be open to a court case because of how it is used, how it acts or how stupid people might use it, they include a warning in an attempt to deflect the law suite. The result is that we are subject to a LOT of warnings. 

It's pretty hard to take them too seriously when they are ever present.


Yep, I love California, spend a lot of time there and my daughter lives there - lots of scary things in Ca, agreed......but, it's not you guys that I worry about - it's the kids who still have a chance of taking care of themselves and not getting cavalier attitudes or bad advice from us with our "best before" dates past.

Robbie Collins does pretty much what we do. Smart guy.


I have suffered the same fate as you, regarding my family.  But, think about it.  Luthiers are all ready to risk their lives to use some toxic chemical.  Stop kidding yourself.  The argument that "everything causes cancer but not everyone gets it" is not something to risk your life on.  The fumes from CA alone will fuse your eyes shut should you hover over the repair in progress.  I have never used accelerator.  No need.  Take your time.  There is thin-enough stuff out there to use.  Why are our lungs, the most delicate yet necessary organ so neglected?  They wouldn't be if we ever felt the sensation of choking or drowning.  Wise up everyone!  Lutherie isn't worth dying for.

I dont know what for certain does or doesnt cause cancer as far as shop chemicals etc go, but I do know the accelerator sold alongside the Hot Stuff brand of ca glues (cant think of what they call it right now) often really bothers my throat, causing it to sometimes feel like its half closed, like its stuck halfway through a swallow. I try to avoid using it, but its hard sometimes, and the smell really does stick around considering how little I use.

I'm sure you guys know that known carcinogens come with probability tables related to concentration, type and length of exposure, and which protective measures you have in place, etc.  For example, coming in continuous contact with pure benzene on a daily basis without a respirator or gloves will award you a very high probability of developing mutant cells whose growth regulators aren't working (aka cancer).

I try to keep fresh P95 masks at several workstations for tasks like cleaning a fingerboard with naptha or spraying accelerator where I use it one-handed like a welding mask. I often wear nitrile gloves.  Try as I might I often forget because frankly it's a PITA and slows me down. I still probably cut my exposure by half.

Whichever way you go on this you're placing a bet with your health as currency.  I like to control risk as much as reasonably possible but, truth be told, there is so much noise on the internet that it's hard to be clear about best practices.  Expense, both in time and money, are always on our minds as we try to eek out a living. I don't know about you, but I sometimes shortchange myself.


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