Re: Safe handling epoxy/g

Posted by Mark Camp on Sep 2, 2004

For what it's worth here is my approach:

I try to limit (a) hardener/uncured goo skin contact (b) hardener fumes inhalation (c) resin exposure (d) cured or partially cured laminate dust inhalation (e) solvent inhalation other than isopropanol, water, and acetic acid (f) fumed silica dust inhalation(g) wood flour dust inhalation.

Why? Well,...

(a) and (b) are known to present a small but significant risk of epoxy sensitization that would result in the end of my participation in this pleasant hobby. They are known for sure to be quite safe otherwise, but there is still a theoretical risk because of the presence of low concentrations of low molecular weight amines, and I am somewhat conservative about this unknown risk.

For (a) I use latex gloves. I am 90% attentive but only 50% successful. There is often a small amount of accidental contact. I have been out to the garage to mix epoxy only 50 times, but have found 53 ways to smear epoxy on my skin.

(b): I am moderately attentive and equally successful. I use a cannister respirator when the garage door is closed and there is a lot of goo a-mixing. Otherwise I don't.

Regarding (c), it is known for certain to be quite safe, but I am a little conservative even so, because resin contains epoxy groups and benzenze rings, and I am a bit leery of each, the former being pretty reactive and the latter being generally a bit toxicologically notorious.

(d,f, and g): Known to be quite safe, and specifically, I think that concerns about all dust are a silly fad and based on an unscientific and hysterical misunderstanding of the uniquely perverse nature of asbestos fibers. But I am a bit conservative even so. My reason: Breathing is good. Go figure. My cannister respirator is my is more comfortable, more effective, and more goggle-friendly than an ordinary dust mask.

(e,) I don't share in the phobia that results in an official government warning on all naval stores about "solvents" since I know for a fact that water, for one, is safe and often quite refreshing, in moderate doses and as long as it's safely diluted with bourbon. But I admit that acetone and methyl ethyl ketone induce a mild irrational fear in me. I suspect that if my brother and I didn't breath acetone and polyester resin fumes in extravagant amounts in our boat-building youths, neither of us would be the victims of irrational behaviour patterns now in our dotage: building S and G boats (Mark only), working for greedy multinational corporations, growing inedibly oversized Jersey zucchinis (Don only), etc.

In Response to: Safe handling epoxy/glass by Michelle Moran on Sep 1, 2004