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Is Epoxy Toxic?

When it comes to resin a lot of words get thrown around. Toxic. Dangerous. Poisonous. Hazardous. Reactive. Corrosive. These can all be scary words and if you are new to the world of epoxies then it would be understandable if reading some of these words would make you hesitant to pick it up and give it a try.

Today we are asking the experts. Is resin toxic? Here is what our chemical engineer from Nerpa Polymers has to say.

The resin itself is generally not toxic and considered to be inert material once it is fully cured.

The toxicity of resins (Part A) and hardeners (Part B) in their liquid state requires a little bit more explanation. Usually, any material is assessed for toxicity by first determining the primary route of exposure. For example, holding a cigarette in your hand will be pretty safe, but smoking cigarettes means inhaling toxic chemicals.

Epoxy resin products are assessed by considering three routes:

  • Oral exposure (someone accidentally ate resin or hardener)

  • Dermal exposure (someone poured epoxy on the skin)

  • Inhalation of epoxy fumes (where applicable, breathing VOCs or dangerous parts of the composition of the epoxy)

Then we have to go one layer deeper and determine how much of the resin and hardener should be eaten, poured on the skin or inhaled to cause health issues. But this is not the end (hope you are still reading). We also have to determine whether eating, pouring over or inhaling products can cause chronic or delayed health issues and only this is how the toxicity of the product can be determined. Every brand is different, so I will talk only about Nerpa Polymers.

We formulated our products without using products that are toxic according to Health Canada regulations. We also do not use any products suspected of causing delayed damage (many brands use nonylphenol in part B of epoxy, nonylphenol is suspected of causing damage to fertility and health of the unborn child). We also do not use products that cause damage when inhaling them. The ammoniacal odor from part B is not dangerous. We know that some other brands use cheap viscosity reducers and accelerators that I would not work with without a respirator mask.

Having said all this, by the nature of epoxy, it is still a chemical product; it is an irritant and corrosive to the skin and eyes. This is why safety glasses and gloves should always be worn.

As well some people may be more sensitive to product odors than others and some may be more prone to allergies or have asthma which could affect them differently.

So what if you DO get resin on your skin because let's face it - even the most careful still have it happen unintentionally. There are lots of dos and don'ts for getting the sticky substance off you skin that you can find by Googling but which ones work and are some dangerous? In some online communities they are very against using anything like rubbing alcohol or vinegar to get it off your skin saying it breaks the resin down and then enters your skin pores and yet other sources you find will tell you to do just that. So who is telling the truth? Here is what Nerpa had to say:

If you get resin on your hands, does using rubbing alcohol break it down and make it enter your skin, causing issues?

Rubbing alcohol does not break the resin down, it reduces its viscosity. Rubbing alcohol can help remove uncured resin from your skin, but it's always better to prevent contact in the first place by wearing gloves. If you do get resin on your skin, wash the affected area with soap and water first. Water and soap is a safer option. If needed, use rubbing alcohol to help remove any remaining resin. It is unlikely that rubbing alcohol would cause the resin to penetrate your skin, but it's essential to clean the area thoroughly to minimize the risk of irritation or allergic reactions.

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