Jan 24 , 2023
Epoxies are prized for their strong adhesive capabilities, resistance to chemicals and heat, and tenacity, and the usage of epoxy coating systems is continuing to gain popularity. Epoxies can also be harsh. However, those who apply coatings need to be aware of the possible dangers associated with the use of epoxy materials and be able to safely handle and apply these coating systems.
Even though the potential health impacts change depending on the nature of the exposure and how long it was experienced, there are definite actions that applicators can and should take to reduce the risks. As long as adequate ventilation, work habits, correct cleanliness, and personal protection equipment (PPE) are considered, epoxy systems can be employed without risk.
What's Contained Here
Epoxy resin systems are chemical mixes with at least two ingredients: epoxy resin and a curing agent. These are the only two components of an epoxy resin system. The glycidyl ethers of various alcohols are the most frequent types of epoxy resins. The bisphenol-A diglycidyl ether, often known as DGEBA, is a common type of liquid epoxy resin, and it is responsible for more than 75 percent of all of the epoxy resins that are utilized in industrial settings. In the meantime, amines, a vast class of chemicals, are the source of most of the curing agents used. It's possible that polyamide and cycloaliphatic amine curing agents, which are both types of amines, are safer than more straightforward aliphatic compounds.
Epoxy is a hard, long-lasting plastic formed when these ingredients are allowed to cure. Other chemicals, such as solvents, pigments, and fillers, could also be present in the systems. In epoxy systems with only one component, the potentially dangerous monomers have already undergone some of their reactions. When the two components of a two-part epoxy system are combined, the monomers begin to react. There are additional products available that have a reduced amount of solvent content or none at all. Epoxies are typically only dangerous after being completed and can cure if they are burned, sliced, or sanded.
Epoxy systems each have their own unique set of potentially hazardous health effects. They have the potential to aggravate an existing sensitivity to epoxy. Inflammation of the skin and eyes, allergic reactions to the skin, irritation of the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs), allergic reactions to the respiratory tract, asthma-like symptoms, or difficulty breathing are all examples of types of exposure. In most cases, these issues manifest themselves when the epoxy is breathed in, when it comes into contact with the skin or eyes, or when it is ingested. The likelihood of the applicator becoming injured or unwell increases with the length and frequency of their exposure to the substance.
The first thing you should do in order to fix any safety problem in the workplace is to make an effort to eliminate it through engineering. On the packaging of epoxy systems, it is common practice to tell applicators to apply the product only after ensuring adequate ventilation. This can be helpful in preventing the buildup of chemical vapors in the working environment.
Using dilution ventilation during the application process is another complementary method that can assist in limiting the number of chemical vapors produced. In particular, bringing fresh air into work areas can be accomplished by opening windows and/or using fans. For instance, a portable exhaust fan connected to a flexible hose may effectively reduce exposure to epoxy vapors. However, applicators must carefully place the fan very close to the work area to draw air away from the workspace. Additionally, applicators must ensure that the fan does not redirect potentially hazardous vapors toward other workers or into another occupied space.
Observing safe working procedures is another action that can be taken to reduce exposure to epoxies. When it comes to pouring and mixing, one helpful hint is to use disposable containers rather than bowls. During the process of cleaning up, this can result in less chemical handling on the part of the applicators. The purchaser of resins and hardeners should look for packaging that enables the applicator to combine the components of the product before opening the bag. This is a second method for lowering exposure levels.
When working with high-performance coatings, particularly epoxy materials, applicators should always follow the manufacturer's guidelines on PPE and ensure that they wear the appropriate personal protective equipment. The following are some general suggestions for personal protective equipment (PPE) to use when handling, mixing and applying epoxy systems:
- Eye protection should consist of either chemical goggles with side shields to protect against splashes or goggles with a full-face shield at least 8 inches (203.2 mm) diameter.
- Gloves: Ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) laminate, butyl rubber, nitrile rubber, or neoprene are some of the materials that can be utilized to provide hand protection. Cotton and latex gloves, in addition to barrier creams, do not provide an adequate level of protection against epoxies for installers. Before and after each usage of gloves, the person applying the product should remove their gloves, wash their hands with clean running water and a mild soap that has a pH that is either neutral or slightly acidic, and dry their hands thoroughly with clean towels.
- Sleeves: In addition to protective gloves, a person should wear protective sleeves to protect their arms from coming into touch with chemicals or being splashed by chemicals.
- Coveralls: Installers should wear coveralls over their work clothes to prevent epoxy chemicals from reaching their skin and seeping into their clothing. This keeps the chemicals from coming into contact with the installer's skin. The skin can be protected from powdered elements like aerosols as well as light liquid splashes by wearing coveralls. Coveralls can also protect against light liquid splashes.
- Chemical-resistant aprons, such as those produced with butyl rubber, can be worn below coveralls to give an extra layer of defense against harmful substances.
Our epoxy products
The composition of Ekopel has been examined by the German Institute ISEGA, which determined that it satisfies the requirements of the standards DIN EN 71-3 (Safe for Children) and that it does not cause any harm when it comes into contact with the skin. We strongly advise that the appropriate protective gear for the skin, eyes, and respiratory system be used at all times during the mixing and application of the material.
At Refinished Bathtub Solutions, our kits are both risk-free and simple to put to use.