We’ve spent a lot of time working with and around epoxies. We’ve had a significantly higher danger of epoxy exposure as builders and epoxy makers than the ordinary builder or casual epoxy user. We can predict the risk of health problems from handling WEST SYSTEM resins and hardeners based on our own and other builders’ experiences.
The most prevalent health problems associated with epoxy use are listed below. Almost all of us have the ability to prevent these issues. Most people who acquire a health problem can continue to use epoxy if they take proper measures.
Dermatitis due to contact
When epoxy users are overexposed to epoxy resin or hardener, only about 10% of them respond. Contact dermatitis, or skin irritation, is the most common reaction. Acute contact dermatitis can be caused by both the epoxy resin and the hardener. The discomfort might be intense, but it normally goes away once the irritant is removed. Contact with resins and hardeners on a regular basis can produce chronic contact dermatitis, which is usually milder but lasts longer.
Eczema, a type of dermatitis that includes swelling, blisters, and itching, can develop if left untreated for a long time. If allowed to settle on the skin, partially cured epoxy sanding dust can cause contact dermatitis.
Dermatitis Allergic (Sensitization)
Allergic dermatitis is one of the more serious side effects, however it affects less than 2% of epoxy users. When the body overreacts to an allergen, allergic dermatitis develops. Being allergic to a substance is known as sensitization. Your immune system, as well as the amount and frequency of epoxy exposure, influence your risk of being sensitized. If you have been severely overexposed to epoxy or if you are naturally sensitized or allergic to one of its components, you are the most vulnerable. If you have fair skin, have been exposed to other sensitizing agents, have hay fever or other allergies, or are stressed, you are also more sensitive.
After a few exposures to epoxy, you may develop sensitized to it. It could take 10 days, a month, or even years of exposure. Because you can’t know how much you can handle before becoming allergic, it’s best to avoid all exposure.
Allergic reactions to epoxy can cause itchy skin and breathing issues. The more prevalent of these two health impacts is irritated skin. Swelling, stinging, and red eyes are common symptoms, and they resemble a poison ivy reaction. The irritation might be minor or severe, acute or persistent, just like poison ivy. Inhaling intense epoxy fumes can irritate your respiratory tract if done regularly or for long periods of time. Itching and swelling can occur when highly concentrated epoxy fumes are applied to sensitive skin areas such as the eyelids.
If discomfort persists or worsens after avoiding epoxy for several days, see a doctor. Epoxy sensitization has no specific antidote, but the symptoms can occasionally be managed with medication.
Future exposures to even little amounts of epoxy, once sensitized, are likely to cause subsequent (and sometimes more severe) reactions. Preventing recurrences is challenging, but not impossible.
To avoid exposure, only use epoxy after the symptoms have gone away, and strictly follow the specified handling methods. Read the material safety data sheets (MSDS) for the product so you can recognize symptoms and take preventative and first-aid measures. Chemical Burns and Severe Irritation
Hardener burns are a rare occurrence. Burns are unlikely to occur when mixed epoxy is used. WEST SYSTEM epoxy hardeners are moderately corrosive on their own. They can irritate the skin and produce minor chemical burns if they come into touch with it. Chemical burns appear gradually and cause discomfort and minor pain at first. The skin may become discolored and scarred as a result of the burn.
The amount of time it takes for a hardener to induce a chemical burn is determined by the area of contact and the concentration of the hardener. The hardener is diluted and thus less corrosive when resin and hardener are blended. Even though combined epoxy is less corrosive, it should never be applied to the skin. It takes a long time to cure and is tough to eradicate.
Irritation of the lungs
Breathing very intense epoxy vapor can irritate and sensitize the respiratory system. Epoxy vapors are unlikely to be substantially concentrated at room temperature. If you are allergic to epoxy, however, even tiny amounts of epoxy fumes can cause an allergic reaction. Epoxy vapor levels rise at higher temperatures and in poorly ventilated areas.
Never inhale partially cured epoxy sanding dust. Epoxy compounds are still reactive after curing. Sanding epoxy before it has fully cured might cause serious health concerns. These dust particles become caught in the mucous lining of your respiratory system when you inhale them. The reactive substance has the potential to induce severe respiratory irritation and/or allergy.
WEST SYSTEM fillers pose low risks on their own. Breathing any annoyance dust, on the other hand, will aggravate any existing respiratory difficulties. Smokers and those with strained lungs are much more prone to develop significant respiratory issues.