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Epoxy Resin: Concerns & Safety Tips

An artist pours epoxy resin onto an art piece using gloves and a clean desk.

Epoxy Resin is a versatile material many use in DIY projects, crafts, and woodworking. It’s an outstanding adhesive with protective qualities, making it a great tool for most projects. However, there are some common questions we receive at the poison center regarding its potential toxicity to humans. In this blog post, we’ll address some of your safety concerns. 

What is Epoxy Resin?

Epoxy resin is a synthetic product formed by the reaction of epoxide compounds with a curing agent. It becomes “cured” or hardened by either a chemical process or by ultraviolet light. The resulting material is known for its exceptional strength, durability, and resistance to chemicals and environmental factors. It comes in liquid form and is commonly used as an adhesive, coating, or casting material in a wide range of applications.

Is Epoxy Resin Toxic?

While epoxy resin is generally safe when used properly, it contains components that can pose health risks if mishandled. The primary concern lies in the epoxy curing process, during which the resin and hardener chemically react to form a solid material. During this reaction, heat is generated, releasing irritating odors and fumes that may irritate the skin.

What are some common ingredients in epoxy resin?

Understanding the composition of epoxy resin can provide valuable insights into its properties and potential risks. Let’s take a closer look at the common ingredients found in epoxy resin formulations:

Resin Component:

  • Epoxide Compounds: These are the main building blocks of epoxy resin. Their chemical structure undergoes polymerization during curing.

Hardener Component:

  • Amines or Polyamines: The hardener is a crucial part responsible for starting the curing reaction with the epoxide compounds in the resin. 

Modifiers and Additives:

  • Fillers: Some epoxy formulations include fillers like silica or microspheres to enhance viscosity, reduce shrinkage, and improve mechanical properties.
  • Diluents: These are low-viscosity liquids added to reduce the thickness of the epoxy mixture, making it easier to apply and ensuring better penetration in certain applications.
  • Colorants and Pigments: Depending on the application, epoxy resins can be transparent or opaque. Colorants and pigments are added to achieve the desired visual appearance.

Stabilizers and Inhibitors:

  • Stabilizers: These components prevent premature curing during storage, ensuring a longer shelf life.
  • Inhibitors: In contrast, inhibitors slow down or control the curing process, providing more time for the resin to be applied before hardening begins.

Safety Measures When Working with Epoxy Resin:

Here are some ways to ensure safe use of this product. 

Ventilation:

Adequate ventilation is crucial when working with epoxy resin. Ensure that your workspace is well-ventilated to dissipate fumes during the curing process.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

Wear proper PPE, including gloves and a mask, to protect your skin and respiratory system from direct contact with the resin and any airborne particles.

Avoid Skin Contact:

Minimize skin contact with epoxy resin, as prolonged exposure may cause irritation. In case of skin contact, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water.

Eye Protection:

Use safety goggles or glasses to protect your eyes from accidental splashes or exposure to resin fumes.

Follow Instructions:

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommended safety precautions when using epoxy resin. Different formulations may have specific guidelines that should be followed.

What to do if someone eats epoxy resin

Call the Missouri Poison Center immediately if someone eats epoxy resin. DO NOT induce vomiting, as this may cause unnecessary effects and potential damage. If someone gets resin on their skin or in their eyes, flush the area with water for 10-15 minutes.

How to safely store epoxy resin

Ensuring the safe storage of epoxy resin is crucial, especially in households with children. While epoxy resin is a valuable tool for creative projects, taking precautions to prevent accidental exposure is essential. Here’s a guide on how to store this product safely, keeping it out of reach from children:

1. Store in a secure location:

Store epoxy resin in a secure, designated area that is out of reach of children. High shelves or locked cabinets are ideal options. Avoid storing it in common areas where children may have easy access. When done, transfer any resin and hardener components into locked containers. This will prevent accidental spills and add further protection against exposure.

2. Keep Away from Food and Drink:

Store resin away from food preparation areas and beverages. Cross-contamination could occur if there’s any accidental contact between epoxy resin and these items. 

3. Education and Awareness:

Educate family members, especially children, about the potential risks associated with epoxy resin. Teach them that the materials are not for play and are not edible.

4. Emergency Information:

Keep emergency contact information, including the Poison Help line 1-800-222-1222, readily available in case of accidental exposure. Quick access to this information can make a significant difference in addressing exposures promptly.

Have more questions? Call us!

Epoxy resin is a remarkable material that has revolutionized various industries. While it offers numerous benefits, handling it with care and adhering to safety guidelines is essential. By taking the necessary precautions, you can enjoy the versatility of epoxy resin in your projects without compromising your health. If you have any concerns or encounter adverse effects, don’t hesitate to call the Missouri Poison Center for more guidance. Stay safe and keep creating!

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