Where do you get your information from when it comes to epoxy? Google? Facebook? YouTube? Do you trust comments from random people on the internet? It's crazy how many people do! The following are some real comments from people giving advice that they obviously believe to be true. Now, it's never a bad thing to be safe when you're using resin but comments like this are not helpful at all and they spread misinformation and fear. I've seen countless people scared off of even trying resin art because they believe what they're reading in public groups.
So let's get to the bottom of this. Are Goggles or eye protection necessary when using resin? Once again we chatted with a chemical engineer and epoxy manufacturer from Nerpa Polymers because I believe that going to the source is going to give you more accurate information than some random in a Facebook group.
Here's what he had to say:
In reality, the sole purpose of goggles is to protect the eyes from accidental splashes. The pH level of part B can vary from 9.5 to 11.5. This alkalinity level is considered dangerous for the eyes, so if the spill occurs and liquid ends up in the eye, it is mandatory to wash the eyes with running water for 15 minutes and then see a doctor to confirm that everything is fine.
The toxic fumes or chemicals which can easily get into the system via eyes or melt the contacts onto the eyeball would lie in a category of chemical warfare agents, like mustard gas, and for sure won't be available for sale.
(Read that paragraph again)
We have some anecdotal thoughts about what could have caused the "toxic fumes" narrative. Many (in fact ~90% but not Nerpa) of the 1:1 epoxy resins for arts and crafts have a very similar composition of their part B. It is roughly 35-40% of the active ingredient responsible for solidifying of the resin, 50-55% of Nonylphenol and 5-10% of the accelerator such as AEP (aminoethylpiperazine)
As you can see, have some serious dangers associated with them. In addition, they have a characteristic unpleasant smell that triggers a response within a certain percentage of the population, such as nausea and tearing. Even though the most dangerous route of exposure is skin and eye contact, the pattern "smell=nausea and tearing" could have caused the belief that epoxy emits "toxic fumes."
To sum up, the main reason to wear goggles is to protect the eyes from direct contact with the components of primarily part B of the epoxy resin.
A few bullet points to make:
Some people may have an allergic reaction or sensitivity to some resins. Like many things in life.
The resin you use is important if you care about safety. Any resin you use should have safety data sheets available and they should be able to truthfully answer any questions you have.
Always read the instructions on your bottle of epoxy. Please. It should have them and if not, choose a different epoxy!
If you want to wear goggles when using resin you go for it! Everyone has their own level of comfort and if you're unsure it's better to be safe.
We answer the "Is Resin Toxic" question in this blog post here. It's a hot topic as the word toxic gets thrown around a lot and it can be very misleading when people don't fully understand the chemistry.
This is why I use Nerpa Polymers epoxy now. Safer, made responsibly and a company that is completely transparent and knowledgeable.
Disclaimer: This information was provided by the chemical engineering team at Nerpa Polymers. This is NOT a paid sponsorship and I am not compensated for these posts. I do receive a discount on my own epoxy from Nerpa but even if I didn't I am a huge supporter of this company as their business morals align with my own.