The Epoxy Safety Guide
Working with epoxy can be highly rewarding, as well as safe. Serious health problems associated with epoxy use are uncommon. Most epoxy related health problems are minor, but they can cause discomfort and diminish the rewards of working with it. Fortunately, these problems are preventable.
As an epoxy user, you should be concerned about health and safety, and be well informed of the materials and products you use. The Epoxy Safety Guide covers the health hazards of working with WEST SYSTEM epoxies, and some related shop hazards. More importantly, it offers common sense safety practices that will help prevent health problems and assure your long and productive use of epoxy.
Epoxies are safe when handled properly. To use WEST SYSTEM Epoxies safely, you must understand their hazards and take precautions to avoid them.
The primary hazard associated with epoxy involves skin contact. WEST SYSTEM Resins may cause moderate skin irritation. WEST SYSTEM Hardeners are corrosive and may cause severe skin irritation. Resins and hardeners are also sensitizers and may cause an allergic reaction similar to poison ivy. Susceptibility and the severity of a reaction varies with the individual. Although most people are not sensitive to WEST SYSTEM Resins and Hardeners, the risk of becoming sensitized increases with repeated contact. For those who become sensitized, the severity of the reaction may increase with each contact. These hazards also apply to the sanding dust from epoxy that has not fully cured. These hazards decrease as resin/hardener mixtures reach full cure.
Refer to product labels or Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for specific product warnings and safety information.
Internationally, clean air regulations have added new requirements to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and other air pollutants. Because of these regulations and other environmental concerns, builders want to use products that pollute less.
The volatile emissions from WEST SYSTEM epoxy are much lower than that of vinyl-esters and polyesters commonly used in the boatbuilding and composite industries.
To put it into perspective, making a laminate which requires 38 ltrs of conventional vinyl-ester would put 13.6 kgs of VOC’s into the air. A laminate requiring the same quantity of WEST SYSTEM epoxy would only emit 0.364 kgs of VOC’s.
Consider the environmental impact when choosing the products you will use on your project.