Epoxy is a complex resin made of polymers and prepolymers, which can have profound health implications. Epoxy is a common compound used in homes to stick two surfaces together. The substance is combined with a hardener to create a powerful adhesive. However, when these substances are mixed, the exothermic reaction releases a lot of heat.
Resin safety is paramount when dealing with strong resins like Epoxy. Using resins can be fun but can have severe repercussions if not used safely. Therefore, you must protect yourself from any exposure. If you use Epoxy resins regularly but are unaware of how to use them safely, this guide is for you. The guide will cover everything that you need to handle Epoxy safely.
Health Hazards Caused by Epoxy
Exposure to Epoxy can have severe repercussions.
Therefore, you must avoid direct contact with the Epoxy. Some health hazards that Epoxy causes are:
Dermatitis is a rash that causes severe discomfort. This can have lasting effects on your skin and may transform into blisters or eczema.
Epoxy can cause allergies that can be pretty serious. This happens when you are exposed to Epoxy quite frequently. It can irritate your skin or your respiratory tract.
When the Epoxy is mixed with hardeners, a lot of heat is released. This can cause moderate burns.
If you breathe in Epoxy vapors, it can cause different problems to your respiratory system, including irritation, nausea, etc.
Stages of Epoxy
Before we begin with the safe usage of Epoxy, let us understand the different stages Epoxy goes through. There are three stages of Epoxy:
Here, Epoxy is a liquid that is not fit for use. To make it usable, you must mix the liquid with a hardener.
This is the stage where the Epoxy gets solidified by drying. This is the final stage of the Epoxy treatment. Once the Epoxy is cured, you can touch, feel or use the product where it was used.
The dust here is created when an Epoxy-containing substance is polished. Therefore, you must take the necessary precautions while sanding an Epoxy-treated surface.
Out of all the stages, the Epoxy in the cured stage is the safest as the chemical reaction is deemed complete once the Epoxy cures and hardens.
Applications of Epoxy
- Epoxy is used for a variety of purposes. Some of the typical applications of Epoxy are listed below:
- Epoxy can be used to give a smooth finish to the floors. It creates a waterproof layer making the surface more durable.
- There are different kinds of Epoxy available in the market. You can use water-safe Epoxy to fix boats, etc.
- Epoxy resin is a commonly used substance for creating wooden furniture like tables, sofas, etc.
- Epoxy is also used to repair wooden damages like breakages, chipping, etc.
- Pebble Epoxy can hold pebbles together. If you have a house with an outdoor full of pebbles adding to the aesthetic, you can coat them with a pebble Epoxy solution so that they stick to their place even in extreme weather.
- You can also use it on countertops to make them more durable and spill-resistant.
Ways to Protect Yourself from Epoxy Exposure
There are different ways in which you can protect yourself from Epoxy exposure. Some of these ways are listed below:
Use a respirator mask
When you are working with Epoxy, you must wear your respirator mask. Mixing the resin with the hardener is a chemical reaction, and a harmful gas is released in the process. The release continues for about 72 hours. Also, the reaction results in a release of fumes. Therefore, the respirator mask that you use should be of good quality.
You can choose an N 95 mask or something that matches the quality. You should ensure that the mask has organic filters and fits your face perfectly. There are several respirator masks out there that are specially designed for resin safety.
Wear proper gloves
You should never apply resins like Epoxy using your bare hands. A pair of safety gloves will come to your rescue while working with Epoxy. You should buy a pair of nitrile gloves as they work well and will not let the resin seep through the material.
You must avoid using latex gloves as they are used for hygiene and not for dealing with chemicals. You can easily find nitrile gloves online or in your nearest hardware store.
Don't use Epoxy in a closed room
As mentioned earlier, when you mix Epoxy, a chemical reaction occurs. You cannot be in a closed room breathing gas; therefore, you should always work with Epoxy in a well-ventilated room with fresh air inflow, so the gas gets diffused.
Maintain the ventilation while the Epoxy dries
The release of gas from the Epoxy mixture continues for a very long time, and however, the duration might differ based on the brand. Therefore, you must not be in contact with the substance even after the application.
You must let the resin cure and leave it to dry for the next 72 hours. While the Epoxy dries, some particles are in the air. These particles will flow in a different direction with ventilation, and the room can be rendered harmless after a few hours.
Keep Epoxy away from your skin
You must keep the Epoxy solution away from your body. However, if the Epoxy touches your skin, do not try your ways to remove it from the skin. You must avoid using alcohol or nail polish remover to remove the Epoxy.
You can use a natural formula instead, adding a spoonful of baking soda to the affected area and then a spoon full of dishwashing liquid. You can then mix these two and then rinse them off. You can repeat the process if there are any residues on the skin.
Use the correct tools
Some specific tools are used to mix and apply the Epoxy solution. You should visit the nearby furniture and hardware store and buy these tools before you start using the Epoxy.
Safe Epoxy storage is very important as it can have several harmful effects on your health. You should try to store the bottle containing Epoxy in the dark, away from the reach of children. When someone is exposed to raw, untreated Epoxy, that person might experience redness in the eyes, swelling of the skin, etc.
Also, you should not store them at a height from where they can easily fall. If the Epoxy solution falls on someone's hair, getting rid of it would be impossible.
Have a clean workstation
When you are dealing with Epoxy, your place of work should be clean. A clean place will ensure no damage is caused by incidental contact.
Also, if your gloves have an Epoxy residue, you should avoid objects frequently touched by people, like doorknobs, etc.
Post application measures
Once you are done working with Epoxy, you should get rid of your clothes and change them into fresh clothes. You must wash your hands with warm water and soap thoroughly. Make sure that the resin is not stuck to your nails. Alternatively, you can go for a bath. Make sure to moisturize your hands, as Epoxy usage can dry them.
Disposing Of Epoxy
As Epoxy can have several health effects, disposing of it safely is very important. Also, you must consider the Epoxy solution's harmful environmental impact before getting rid of it. If you have any Epoxy left that can be reused, you must store it safely and use it in the future. Epoxy usually has a decent shelf life; you can store them for future use.
Epoxy can kill marine animals if you dispose of the uncured and untreated Epoxy in sewers or water bodies. Also, you should not pour the solution into your drain or garbage can as it can cause a chemical reaction, increasing the chances of human contact. You should reach out to your local waste facility and ensure they dispose of it safely. The best way of disposing of Epoxy is by letting it cure. Once it cures, it becomes hard and harmless, and then you can throw the hardened Epoxy even in your dustbin.
In case the solution spills on the floor, you must have a cure for these cases handy with you. You can use a scraper to collect the material, and the remaining can be removed from the surface using paper towels. However, if the spill is massive or beyond control, you should use a large amount of sand or any other absorbent available at home.
You must avoid using materials like hay, sawdust, etc., as they will worsen the situation. Once the sand absorbs the Epoxy, you can use alcohol or acetone to treat the affected area and eliminate any accumulated Epoxy. You can also mix warm water with dishwashing liquid to treat the place.
Using Epoxy can be fun, as people love working with resins. However, if not handled properly, it can turn into a nightmare. You must take all the safety precautions while working with Epoxy. Also, you should try to dispose of it safely so that it does not impact the environment or any other individual.