Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

Looking to the more experienced here to identify a rash that's shown up on my fore-arms.  Little red dots, almost like pin-pricks..., up and down the inner and some outer parts of my arms. 

At first I thought it was poison ivy, but it only itches when I mess with it.  Someone at work said they thought it looked like a fiberglass irritant.

I'm wearing all kinds of resperatory protective gear when I'm sanding epoxy (to include some fiberglass) but never thought about my skin.  Was wearing short-sleaved t-shirts until just recently.

Appreciate any thoughts/insights on the topic;

Thanks,
Larry


24 replies:

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RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

Larry,

if you're sanding fully cured epoxy & glass, it's probably just irritation, exactly as your coworker said.

Try washing with cold water, the colder the bette. Then stick with your long sleeves. Be sure to launder them separately.

Laszlo 

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

Another trick if you live in hot climates and don't want to wear long sleeves, is to cover the exposed area of your body with Baby Powder or talc.

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

I haven't built a boat yet, but from my experiance building R/C airplanes I have gotten the same irritation when sanding. Drives me nuts so I always wear long sleeves and gloves when sanding fiberglass and epoxy, then you should still wash your hands and arms with cold soapy water afterwards.

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

Thanks everyone, that's kind of a relief to hear.  Thought I was alergic to something in the yard (which both of my dogs are wrestling with att).

Appreciate the advice/assist,

Larry

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

What is happening is that when you sand the fiberglass, tiny glass particles are landing on your skin and digging in.  This manifests as being really itchy.  If you wear long sleeves make sure that the wrists are tight otherwise the dust will go right up your sleeves.  This is why you see people that work with fiberglass all the time in those special suits.  

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

I have to use head to toe tyvec suit with gloves, hood and respirator when working wet epoxy and sanding dry. Why I go through this to build boats I have no idea. Currently working on my fourth boat and planning on a fifth. I loose allot of water weight in this getup in the summer months in the garage. Oh the things we do for boats. They do make just the tyvec sleeves that would probably work for you. You just toss them out after use instead of all the washing of t-shirts. Laszlo tuned me into the tyvec when I got my reaction. Thanks Laszlo.  

RE: Rash? Question for Laslo

Laslo, youo were first to respond to my last query about epoxy issues; wondered if you'd help me out again.

Last week I began a boat (either Skerry or N'E Dory - haven't decided) and the only thing I've built so far are the spars..., building Birdsmouth hollow mast, boom and a gaff (for a small gaff rig). 

Wound up in ER last night because of severe pain in the chest - they ruled out heart issues but could only come up with bronchial inflamation.  I've been sanding So. Yellow Pine and Walnut (a lot of both) and wearing a good mast "most of the time."  Done some epoxy glue-up but no sanding to speak of.

Ever heard of this kind of reaction?  The pain is quite severe (prevents me from sleeping), but on the bright side - it only hurts when I breath in.  Sadly, I can't exhale all the time.

Appreciate any thoughts; thank you,

Larry

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

Wood dust is toxic and everyone reacts differently to it and can vary w the type of wood. I've one woodworking friend that no longer works w walnut due to an allergic reaction he develops every time he worked with it. It was just a slight itch in his arms. Here's a link to a good article on the toxicity of working around wood and precautions. It's from fine woodworking, a reputable org. http://www.finewoodworking.com/Workshop/WorkshopPDF.aspx?id=2013

15 years ago, I got serious about wood dust and outfitted my very small but high quality shop w an Onieda  dust collector. It had three immediate impacts: the shop is not covered in a thick layer of dust ( do u know that wood dust is explosive? I didn't for a long time.); the air quality is better; and I feel safer working in the shop. Further, unless working on a machine, I work outside - quite viable on the central coast of California. Even outside, sanding creates a lot of dust in the air which lands on your skin and in your lungs.

Sanders and routers are the messiest. I now use a vaccum on all my portable tools as well. A few years ago, I decided to move up from a 5" orbital sander to a 6" - it has 44% more sanding  area so cuts down the sanding time by about 30%. I usually sand to 4000 grit going from 80. 120, 180, 220, 320, 400, 1000, 2000, 4000, the two levels of polishing compound and finally wax - 12 levels. The finish on hardwood is unparalleled. Using a 6" sander made a diff. My point however is that I bought a sander with an integrated vacuum system and it has made an incredible reduction in airborne dust, even outside. The sander motor is designed to blow air out a hole in the middle of the paper which pushes the sanding dust to the outside of the paper and the vacuum picks it up thru 8 holes on the outside edge of the paper. It works extraordinarily well. I see almost no dust in the air. The paper never clogs either.  Also, I keep the sander in small room and just bring the long hose out to the work. The HEPA filters work very well and I don't see dust exhaust in the room. 

All This comes at a cost. The sander, vacuum, and gobs of paper cost ~$900. I know it's a lot of money but it sounds like u are a serious boatbuilder. Working w wood, especially over the long term, can be hazardous. I decided the money was less important than my health and woodworking as an avocation for the rest of my life was important to me so I took action. 

Here's a link to the sander and vac I got. I've no connection with any party. There are other companies that sell Festool and Fein is another company that sells sander/vac systems. I have to say that I'm very satisfied w the Festool sander. Occationally, someone has them on sale. If I remember right, I got mine from festooljunky.com. 

http://www.mcfeelys.com/product/P26571794/Package-ETS-1505-EQ-and-CT-26-E-HEPA-Dust-Extractor

If you've built 4 boats, you'll likely build more. Take action to protect yourself along the way. 

Btw, another protective piece of protective gear I wear is a Trend Airshield Pro. It's a full face shield that blows HEPA-filtered fresh air across your face and keeps any wood that may get thrown at u from a machine from hitting your face. Also u can easily wear glasses under it. 

I a have been woodworking for 40+ years and it took a long time to work all this into my regimen so I thought I'd pass it on for those that are serious about the craft. 

Best. 

Michael

For those interested: www.michaelreadywoodworking.com

Im a serious amateur, not a working pro. I have day job but working in wood since I was 16. 

 

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

Btw, I learned from this post that u can react to epoxy dust. I didn't know that. I'll take  precautions. 

Thx

Micharl

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

Michael pretty much said it all. The only thing I have to add is that  when I was at CLC a few weeks ago picking up some cedar, the smell of cedar oils in their woodshop was overpowering - I actually got a bit of a headache and runny nose from it. So it could also be the oils in the wood getting to your bronchia, not just the sawdust. I've never worked with walnut, but isn't that an oily wood, too? For that matter, pine sap is the source of natural turpentine, so your lungs were exposed to that kind of chemical soup.

The guy cutting wood in the shop, BTW, was so covered in protective gear (goggles, respirator, ear protection, etc.) that I never did figure out who it was that cut my wood for me.

Laszlo

 

 

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

Michael, excellent information.  I appreciate all the time (and info!) you put into your response.

Laslo - not sure on the oil content of walnut but I did consider the sap in Pine.  So. Yellow seems to have less than generic pine from Home Depot/ Lowe's, etc., but still....

I do know that Black Walnut has a higher toxicity than other species of that type - what I don't know is whether mine's black or other.  It's beautiful, I'll say that! 

I've looked at the dust collection options in the past but today (and for the last several years) I don't have a woodshop, per se.  I'm working out of the garage next door (my mother-in-law's house - let's not get me started!!) and atop the wood dust, there's lots of other crap added to it.  I do use a heavy dust mask (padded type, not the thin paper) but I think my personal situation just complicated matters.  I have periodic asthma attacks and noticed lots of conjestion at the end of the day while building these spars.  Just have to be more careful in the future.

Again, appreciate all the assistance.  As my project goes I'll begin a build thread and post pictures.  Meanwhile..., here's the gaff & boom (since varnished):

http://i40.tinypic.com/108ii4x.jpg

http://i44.tinypic.com/2pz0hw3.jpg

Larry

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

That was a good post, Michael, thanks.  

I've always been fanatically carefully with epoxy---even during dumb teenage years.  Having been at this for 20 years, it seems anecdotally that about 1 person out of a 1000 acquires an epoxy allergy.

But wood dust can be treacherous, too.  I'm slightly sensitized to okoume dust.  (On sanding days in boatbuilding classes I give instruction, then retreat upwind.)  

We fret about the dust here at CLC.  Both the CNC shop and the millshop here have $10,000 Oneida dust collection systems.  Still, the guys are good about wearing respirators.  A lot of folks touring the shop remark on the "wonderful" cedar fragrance in the millshop, but as Laszlo noted, after about 20 minutes it starts to feel poisonous.  

Common sense, and proper dust-collecting on your random-orbital sander, go a very long way to avoiding concerns about dust allergies.  

My thoughts on dust-collecting sanders are here.

 

 

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

>>>>What is happening is that when you sand the fiberglass, tiny glass particles are landing on your skin and digging in.  This manifests as being really itchy. >>>>


Right, fiberglass itchiness is horrible, but short-lived, thankfully.  The only thing you can do is not get fiberglass dust on your skin in the first place.  I wear long sleeves and tape my gloves to my cuffs so that the evil dust doesn't creep under my sleeves.  

Microscopic shards of broken glass---which along with atomized epoxy comprises the dust you make when you sand a fiberglass hull---is gonna make you itch.  If you get it on your skin, don't take a hot shower.  This opens your pores and makes it worse! Cold shower for you.

I note that if you order "itching powder" out of the back of a comic book, it is ground-up fiberglass.  Of course, I haven't looked in the back of a comic book in 30 years, so I suppose such a thing has been outlawed by now.  

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

There is a compound in Black Walnut that tends to kill vegetation under Black Walnut trees as they grow.  It leaches out of the roots.  i would think that is the toxins that can effect people when they are working with BW.  Read about it in a Landscaping/Gardening column in our local newspaper.  I guess you wouldn't want to use BW sawdust or chips for mulch.

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

John, thanks for the link to your review - I'll have to try that Bosch Pro model one day.  My current model is a P.C. angle grinder - 5" - 6-speed.  Cuts like a demon but alas, no dust collection attachment at all.  It takes the stick-n-peel sandpaper.  I remember using 60 grit on my kayak (early on in the epoxy sanding stages) and amazed at 1) how well it ground down runs/drips/etc., and 2) how tough epoxy is after about 3 months cure time!  If I get re-situated soon (work) I'll go looking for the Bosch.

Dave, good info on the Black Walnut.  I'm headed back to my wood store to buy more (had a stack about 4 feet tall, 4 ft wide and all 10ft long!  Beautiful stuff), and I'll be sure to ask if they can identify the exact species.

Also, I'm investing in more (many more) new heavy dust masks.  I think part of my problem was accumulation on the old ones - both inside and out - rendering them semi-useless.

Thanks all; I'm remembering why I like this site so much!

Larry

 

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

Larry, 

Sounds like you need to take extra precautions with dust. Given you don't have a dust collector, consider the Trend Airshield Pro. Its a little heavy but not bad. For all day use I where ear protection since the fan does get a little annoying. But the environment under the mask is quite good. It also provides excellent eye protection and you don't get dust in your eyes either. I can't imagine epoxy/fiberglass dust is good for your eyes and I expect the Airshield will provide protection from it. I regularly blow the filters out by putting a blower in the fresh air outlet. Its amazing how much dust comes off the filters when cleaning. Also, its battery powered (rechargeable) and the battery lasts at least 4 hours and I've had it for about 4-5 years. I orginally got it after a wood turning I was working on literally exploded into 10's of pieces and I got hit in the face (without injury). I like it so much now, its my go-to protection and wear it when working with any powered stationary or portable machine. One advantage to it being big is that it doesn't get lost. OK, I figured out how to post pics!!

Trend Airshield Pro

Speaking of hearing protection, I found some VERY small, light and effective hearing protectors that I can highly recommend. I've been using them for several years and without a problem. They are called Sensgard - about $20 on Amazon and other places. They make a huge difference, especially working around machinery like a sander, saw, router, etc for any length of time. Most of the time, I forget I even have them on. I've had the same pair for about 3 years. I recently bought a backup pair for those times i misplace the other pair. I ususally where them around my neck with the tips towards my back and just hang them on my ears dangling below my neck when in use.

Sensgard hearing protection

http://www.amazon.com/SensGard-ZEM-Over-Ear-Protection/dp/B005IYDO1U/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1328846747&sr=8-5 

I used to use a 3M 7500 mask with P100 filters - very similar to the 3M 6000 mask sold on CLC. I like it quite a bit - light, good fit, always felt "pretty" clear on the inside. It would get a little stuffy after a while tho. I blew out the filters at the end or beginning of every day. Since I got the Trend Airshield Pro, I haven't worn the 7500. I'll probably retrofit it with the vapor filters when epoxying and varnishing the boat but return to the Airshield when sanding. BTW, I'll be sanding outside the shop, not in. A woodworking I know says that if you blow your nose at the end of a session and the blow if dark on the paper, your mask is not working for you. 

For those interested, I have purchased many tools from many on-line sites. One of my favorites is LeeValley.com. Their prices are good and the Veritas tools they design and sell on the site generally get very good reviews - especially the block planes. Personally, I have Lie Nielsen planes. They are superb but got trumped by Veritas in a Fine Woodworking review on block planes a year or two ago. I've not tried the Veritas myself tho. 

Lastly, I also really like the Bosch 3275 DVS sander that John,CLC posted. I've gone through 2 of them. They are aggressive, relaible, and did a pretty good job at picking up dust but not anywhere near as good as a vacuum-attached sander does. I haven't used my Bosch since I got the Festool described above and pictured here. 

6" Festool sander and vacuum

I can't believe I typed that entire post this morning on my iPhone before I got up. I reread it tonight thinking I must have a million editing mistakes but it wasn't too bad. 

Best

Michael

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

Michael, once again, great info and recommendations.  I'll be looking for the airshield tonight!  The earplugs are also tempting 'cause I generally wear bulky shooting muffs (work GREAT!) but they'd never fit with that mask.

Appreciate all your attention to my question; btw, I'm feeling much better today.

Larry

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

Larry,

I got mine here: http://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/store/Shop___Safety___Safety_Supplies___Trend_Airshield_Pro___trend_pro?Args= . They are $379. I did not get the combo pack. 

I highly recommend it. 

I hate earmuffs. Makes your ears sweat. Trust me at $20, you appreate the Sensgard.

Best

Michael

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

Wow, what great ino in these posts! Thanks, everyone.

Jim

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

I went to our local tool store (The Tool Nut) last night to look at that sander. They have a huge selection of Festool stuff there. I tried the 5 inch sander and that felt buzzy and a bit cheesy. The 6" 150/3 (or 5, this has to do with the measurement of the orbits in mm) felt solid and quiet.

Of course I bought it.

I took it home and tried it out on my not yet finished Petrel hull. This thing is awesome! I kept looking for things to sand.....

I think my 5" Dewalt is gonna get mighty lonely

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

@Jim: Glad I could add a bit to your knowledge of woodworking tools

@Dan: I have the 5mm orbit and its a bit more aggressive than the 3mm but I think the 5mm is perfect. It is solid and quiet. Did you get the vacuum as well? The Vaccum makes a huge diff. It is so efficent, you won't see dust in the air.

Best

Michael

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

@ Michael: I've had the vac (the mini) since trashing out my basement building my first boat. One tip I was given was to keep the vac at midrange suction. Apparently this is less strain on all devices attached to it.

Dan

RE: Rash? or fiberglass/epoxy reaction???

To avoid rash on your skin just avoid direct sunlight. Were sleaves clothes to cover your body. And aopply some ointment or sunlight cream on your body before going in the sunlight.

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