Safety when working with epoxy and hardener
It is important that we understand how the chemicals we use can affect our body, it is how we learn to deal with them in a risk free manner.
The epoxy resins are used in industry and painting since the 1950s. This is a relatively long time, which has given us some experience of these plastics properties. Epoxy resins and their hardeners are however complex chemical compounds which in some cases can cause injury if they are handled improperly .
The recommendations that we provide here can to some extent as a general rule for handling of epoxy resin and hardener. We would however point out that the recommendations apply to products manufactured by Nils Malmgren AB. In cases where local labour safety exist, these shall always be followed.
What damage risk’s when handling epoxy resins and hardeners ?
One can expose itself in three ways:
- by mouth ( orally )
- through the skin ( dermal)
- by inhalation (inhalation) of vapours or dust.
Generally, one can say that the pure epoxy resins are considered as non-toxic, the risk of damage caused by ingestion of epoxy resin can be considered as very small.
Most curing agents in use today have a certain toxicity. But it takes quite a large volume of harm occurring due precisely toxicity .
When it comes to skin contact so it is usually there the problems arise. It can be irritant, which can give toxic eczema, or sensitizer, which can give allergic contact dermatitis.
Among the hardeners , the aliphatic poly amines that can cause the most skin lesions . They are strongly alkaline and can cause irritation and burns. Damage caused by amines can prepare the skin for epoxy eczema .
Amine adducts and poly amides are generally less irritating to the skin than the pure amines . The pure amines are somewhat sensitizing , whereas adducts and poly amides hardly lead to allergic contact dermatitis.
Inhalation of epoxy resins causes no problems as they are not volatile . The curing agent usually have a pungent odour that can cause temporary respiratory irritation. Inhalation of amines do not normally give rise to any poisoning. There are exceptions .
What damage can epoxy cause in the external environment ?
Most uncured epoxies and curing agents are toxic or harmful to aquatic organisms and may cause long term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. Therefore, it is important to remember not to throw uncured residues in household rubbish. Uncured residue shall be submitted as hazardous waste at the nearest waste facility.
Cured epoxy is to be regarded as harmless .
How do you handle epoxy to avoid injuries?
As shown by what has been said, it is primarily to avoid skin contact . To prevent skin contact, it should always be clear on how epoxy products shall be handled.
Hygiene at work
Ventilation at workplace should be as good as possible. Use tools specially to the epoxy work, keep them clean and do not lend them to others than those who are employed with epoxy.
Do not let the empty cans stand without lid and dispose them immediately in the appropriate containers. Any waste material is dried up immediately before it spreads.
Do not take the door handles, facets and like with soiled work gloves.
Hands, wrists, face and eyes are the most exposed places . These parts of the body must be protected from contact with the epoxy material.
There is of course a theoretical possibility to protect the body from contact by get into a tight plastic clothing, plastic gloves, hood, rubber boots etc. but the risk is bigger that you create other types of irritations such as through sweating and difficulty of movement . The choice of suitable work-wear must be done judiciously. To protect the body, legs and arms an overall is a suitable wear.
The legs and arms must be sufficiently long , that is handing out to the wrists and ankles .
A disposable overall may be good for short periods at work where there is a hight possibility of getting contaminated.
Gloves are available in many types and qualities, all disposable gloves are made out of plastic and can often be used continuously for long periods. Remember to change at any sign of damage. It is convenient to use a thin cotton glove under the plastic gloves.
At the risk of splashing when mixing of low viscosity materials, face protection ( face shield ) or goggles ( tight fitting ) must be used.
During sanding hardened epoxy, carbon filter masks and dust filter class P3 shall be used. At bigger jobs, in combination with extractor fan.
As footwear, except boots and leather boots with handles, wooden clogs are also useful . The main thing is that the heel is so high that the overalls protect the ankle and heel without dragging on the floor.
Importantly, the contaminated work clothing should be changed immediately and soiled and tattered gloves should be discarded. If plastic gloves of reusable type are used, they shall be washed on the outside before removing .
Personal hygiene is a well-documented factor in the continuous handling of chemicals.
Wash hands thoroughly before eating, toileting and smoking. Use soap and water or hand cleaning cream .
Solvents should never be used to clean hands.
Rub hands after washing with skin cream to prevent drying and cracking . A healthy and supple skin reduces the risk of irritation. Solvent causes dehydration and risk of skin cracking, this enabling transport of epoxy under the natural protection .
Nails should be kept short and clean and no rings or wristwatches while working. Eat or smoke in work areas is unsuitable in terms of what we posted earlier.
Think of those who are not protected and do not enter dining areas or other public space go wearing work clothes.
Transport and storage
Epoxy resins and hardeners should be transported and stored in sealed original packaging to avoid contamination of transportation and storage facilities. Products marked with chemical burns or environmental symbol must be packed in such a way that they meet the requirements for the transport of dangerous goods ( ADR ) .
During local storage, the materials should be placed on a plastic film, preferably at the location where the mixture to be made. The plastic film prevents any spills from being absorbed in the substrate, such as concrete. Would the material be spilled, recommended absorbent are sawdust, paper, cloths and similar disposable products for cleaning. Ten throw away the material in a containers for epoxy . Clean shovels and like immediately with solvent.
Countermeasures for accidents
At workplaces that lack running water, shall a handy eye wash be used. In case of contact with eyes, rinse in running water for at least 15 minutes. Consult your doctor, tell that the material can be strongly alkaline from hardeners. Include safety data sheet if available.
At skin damage, washed with cold water, hang dry bandage and seek medical attention.
If you feel unwell, go out in the fresh air. If symptoms persist, seek medical attention.
In accordance with European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No 1907 /2006, the transferor of a dangerous product for professional use, should provide information on the characteristics of the risk and safety point of view as an employer need to arrange the handling of the product is from the health point of view acceptable manner.
Information will be in the form of safety data sheet and to be received not later than when the product is handed over to put into use.
The safety data sheet shall be written in the national language .
CLP Regulation (EU ‘s Regulation 1272/2008 ) with provisions on the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous preparations, saying among other things that the packaging of a hazardous chemical product shall by transfer in Sweden, bear in Swedish with
Trade name or designation
The substances in the chemical name
Hazard symbol and indications of danger or of caution with related pictogram
Hazard or Hazard statements (H ) phrases
Safety phrases or precautionary statements ( P phrases )
Name , address and telephone number of the manufacturer, importer or other person placing the product on the market.
This is true for most other countries within the European Economic Area, EEA.