Is Epoxy Resin Toxic? (In-Depth Report)

Do you plan to implement epoxy resin on a patio floor, renovate a kitchen countertop, or work on an outdoor pool? It’s incredible stuff with a gorgeous finished product. However, the toxicity of epoxy resin poses several small risks that might become a serious health problem if proper measures and safety equipment such as safety glasses and excellent ventilation are not taken.

People have numerous concerns, and rightfully so since your lungs, skin, and overall health are essential. Is epoxy Resin toxic? The answer is not straightforward. Yes, but it’s near enough, so learn about all the hazards that high amounts of exposure can have and how to avoid them here.

Is Epoxy Resin Toxic?

Pure Epoxy Resin is generally non-toxic to animals and humans. Furthermore, the risk of ingestion is relatively low too. However, using it for a long time without common sense and proper precautions might create health issues in the future. For instance, about 10% of individuals working with epoxy resin experience irritating contact dermatitis symptoms.

Nearly all of the primary components in epoxy resins are irritants and occupational allergens in varying degrees. Excessive or long-time use of epoxy resins and hardeners usually is dangerous. 

However, Epoxy is usually food safe once cured, provided it adheres to the FDA’s stringent guidelines. For an epoxy resin item to be food-safe, it must meet the FDA approval and the minimum basic standard for food non-interference. For example, it must not change the taste, smell, or composition of the food. Besides, it also must not have any toxic elements harmful to men.

According to NIOSH, dealing with or being exposed to certain epoxy resins might lead to fertility issues, stillbirth, miscarriage, or babies suffering from birth abnormalities. Some epoxy products are skin sensitizers, which might cause eczema or contact dermatitis

Referring to findings released in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 15 participants out of 113 evaluated exhibited asthma symptoms after being exposed to liquid epoxy resins. Besides, according to the study, epoxy resins only induce asthma when it is fluid, not solid plastic.

Side Effects of Epoxy Poisoning

man wearing protective mask when dealing with epoxy
Protective mask when dealing with epoxy https://www.twenty20.com/

Well, epoxy resin poisoning causes a variety of symptoms. However, these signs and symptoms differ among individuals. The following are some of the most common side effects of epoxy poisoning:

  • Allergies
  • Chemical Burns
  • Contact Dermatitis
  • Respiratory Irritation
  • Cancer
  • Irritation of lungs, throat, and nose.
  • Asthma

Is Epoxy Harmful to Your Respiratory System and Lungs?

When you mix the epoxy resin and curing agent, a reaction lasts until the Epoxy hardens. The combination creates adhesive vapours throughout this process. Breathing these vapours can cause discomfort and asthma, among other respiratory problems.

One can get respiratory problems and lung problems by sanding partly hardened epoxy resin. Sanding generates responsive dust particles, which is why it is the case. Allergies and discomfort result from these particles becoming lodged in the respiratory system.

The most common health effects of inhaling Epoxy are irritation and inflammation of the lungs, throats, and nose. Sensitization and asthma can develop due to repeated and high exposure levels to such gases.

Epoxy resin fumes can be poisonous and harmful to your lungs. Difficulty breathing, coughing, and chest pain can be symptoms of exposure to such hazardous fumes. Furthermore, it can even damage your lungs or cause death in severe circumstances.

Breathing very intense epoxy vapours may irritate and sensitize your respiratory system. Even tiny amounts of epoxy fumes can cause an allergic response if someone is allergic to Epoxy. Epoxy vapour volume increases at higher temperatures or in poorly ventilated areas.

What to Do If You Inhale Vapors: Basic First Aid Procedures?

Well, if you inhale vapours, the first thing you have to do is leave the place right away. Or, open all windows and doors to let the air pass. If you experience throat irritation only, try drinking milk or other cold fluids. Nonetheless, if you inhale any toxic vapours, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Is Epoxy a Skin Irritant?

Getting into contact with liquid epoxy resins may irritate your skin. These are most commonly absorbed through the skin. When it happens frequently enough, even minimal contact with the skin might result in long-term health issues. The skin might absorb hazardous epoxy components after repeated or prolonged exposure in rare situations.

The most prevalent adverse reactions of contact with epoxy resin are eczema or allergic dermatitis. Whenever the body overreacts to an allergen, this disease develops. Additionally, note that such ailment can develop after a single or multiple encounters.

More importantly, your immune response plays a role in developing this disorder. The intensity and frequency of your resin exposure also determine the severity of the side effect.

Again, allergy symptoms may result in breathing issues or inflamed skin. However, the most typical consequence is skin irritation. Itching, swelling, and red eyes are a few skin irritation symptoms.

Well, when working with a hardener, chemical burns are uncommon. However, if you leave the combination on your skin for too long, it may lead to severe irritation and serious burns. It all begins with a bit of ache and discomfort. With time, the burn may leave a minor scar or discolouration on your skin.

However, the damaged area and the concentration of the hardener will determine the severity of your burn or skin effects. So, remember to remove the epoxy resin from your skin as soon as possible.

How Long Do Epoxy Fumes Last?

Generally, epoxy fumes last about one to three days in an adequately ventilated area. However, the epoxy resin may linger in the environment for up to a week and emit a foul odour. If you don’t ventilate the room properly, the fumes will last longer.

Till the Epoxy entirely dries, there could be a residual odour. Well, how long the smell and the fumes would last depends on several factors, including the coating thickness, moisture level, and temperature, to name a few. 

The Epoxy will take far longer to set in a chilly, damp climate, possibly resulting in toxic fumes for so much more than three days. In areas that are not adequately ventilated, fumes generally take considerably longer to evaporate. Most epoxy coatings will cure entirely in 7 days under usual circumstances.

However, you can use several ways for shortening the time it would take for the fumes to go away. For instance, you can ensure the room has appropriate airflow. Besides, you can open the doors and windows for natural circulation. Furthermore, you may also utilize air conditioning vents or exhaust fans for this purpose.

Is There a Reason Why Epoxy Resin Is Harmful?

The chemical composition of epoxy products determines whether it is harmful or not. Epoxy resins contain various chemicals that connect and harden as they cure. Some goods, thankfully, have natural components, whereas others contain hazardous toxins.

Non-toxic epoxy resin contains safe elements such as BPF and BPA. On the other hand, toxic resins include dangerous ingredients such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These chemicals, unlike BPA, are incredibly poisonous and might lead to long-term health issues.

Regrettably, different manufacturers produce their goods in different ways. Furthermore, most firms do not list the components utilized in their epoxy resins. It makes determining whether or not their items include dangerous ingredients difficult. In sum, it’s difficult to tell whether an epoxy is toxic or not unless one identifies its composition.

Is Epoxy Resin Toxic After Curing

Epoxy resin is non-toxic after curing. It is when the resin is completely dried and solid. Since photopolymerization has happened already, and the plastic has become inert, dried or cured, Epoxy is not hazardous. 

To begin with, it implies that the resin substance dries and hardens entirely, preventing any harmful toxins from leaking out. That makes it skin-friendly. 

Second, because the whole reaction process of molecules is complete, there will be no more VOCs or fumes polluting the environment or irritating the skin. As a result, cured resins are safe to touch, use or walk on. 

Is Epoxy Resin Cancerous

Some of the epoxy resin might be cancerous. For example, epichlorohydrin might be present in certain epoxy resins. It is a pollutant that has been linked to skin cancer among laboratory animals. Besides, epichlorohydrin can also develop cancer in humans. When searching for epoxy resin, ensure it is free and safe of contaminants like these.

Is Epoxy Resin Harmful to the Environment in Any Way?

Epoxy resin harms the environment. It generates hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs), posing health risks. It is also extremely harmful to marine creatures, making it bad for the water.

Epoxy resin is a potentially dangerous and poisonous substance for the environment. Epichlorohydrin, one of epoxy resin’s major components, is an insecticide and pesticide ingredient. 

It can readily get airborne if you heat or utilize it in open-air locations, such as building sites, since it is volatile and tends to vaporize at room temperature. Epichlorohydrin evaporates into a gas, which mixes into the external environment. So, people breathe it without recognizing it, resulting in prolonged consumption. Thus, it can lead to various health problems, even cancer-related disorders such as leukemia!

Moreover, epoxy resins are hazardous for humans and other living creatures. It is dangerous to plant habitats and aquatic life. So, overall, using epoxy resin and not disposing of it properly may have significant environmental consequences.

Does Epoxy Resin Smell?

Most epoxy resins have a distinct odour. The degree of the scent is determined by the epoxy resin type and its brand. The smells vary from subtle and hardly detectable to intense, unpleasant, and noxious. 

When the resin cures, it involves chemical reactions, causing the Epoxy to dry. When dealing with Epoxy, the smell released by this reaction plus the solvents employed throughout the hardening process is what people smell. 

However, the smell levels of more expensive epoxy brands are not too strong would not last for a long time. On the other hand, low-quality epoxy resins smell very bad, and the odour doesn’t disappear quickly. 

Epoxy Safety Precautions Should be Taken

One must follow certain safety precautions while dealing with epoxy resins. Doing the work in a well-ventilated place, wearing gloves and safety goggles, etc., are some of the precautions you must take.

Since epoxy resin might cause some health hazards, it is a must to stay cautious. When handling Epoxy, here are a few points to bear in mind:

  • Wear nitrile gloves, a plastic apron to protect your skin from toxic liquid epoxy resin.
  • Put on some safety goggles to protect your eyes.
  • Use a respirator mask if working with highly poisonous epoxy dust resin.
  • Start your work after ventilating the area properly.
  • Check the ingredients carefully before working with epoxy resin.

Basic First Aid

Barrier skin lotions can be used as an extra layer of defence while dealing with epoxy resins. If epoxy chemicals or combinations come into direct contact with the skin, wash it well with water and soap. You can also apply oil-based or citrus cleansers to the affected region. Remove epoxy leaks from your clothes using skin cleansers if feasible.

Why Epoxy Remains a Viable Option?

Epoxy resins have the unique flexibility to cope with every application, one of their key advantages. And due to their eyecatching beauty, affordability, and longevity, they remain a viable option.

Epoxy used in art
The epoxy resin used in art Photo 164237723 © | Dreamstime.com

Epoxy resins have both benefits and drawbacks that need to be considered. The following table lists some of their pros and cons:

Pros Cons
High flexibility level. The application process might be time-consuming.
Suitable for multiple applications. Generate toxic fumes.
Highly durable. Irritate the skin.

However, you can make many creative kinds of stuff using epoxy resins, and you can also polish Epoxy for a glossy shine. For example, you can make jewellery, decoration pieces, and so on. The beauty and flexibility of epoxy resin make it perfect for creative works.

Moreover, epoxy resin is a good choice if you want to put up outside flooring. Their toughness makes it a good choice for outdoor pools and patios. Epoxy Resin has a lengthy lifespan due to its durability; this is an ideal sealant for covered patio floors, outdoor kitchen tabletops, and many other items.

Environmentally Friendly Epoxy Substitutes

Concrete and hard plasters can be a fantastic alternative to epoxy resins. Paraffin wax, Ecopoxy, metal, etc., are also environmentally friendly epoxy substitutes. 

As I have mentioned earlier, epoxy resin is not an environment-friendly product. It is harmful to humans and other living beings. So, if you want to protect the environment, you must use other alternatives such as concrete, Ecopoxy, latex, alabaster, and so on.

What May Be Substituted for Epoxy In This Case?

You can substitute Ecopoxy for Epoxy in this case. Ecopoxy is a biodegradable, organic epoxy resin designed exclusively for woodworking. Besides, you can also use hard plasters, paraffin wax, etc., as an alternative.

Ecopoxy works the same as epoxy resin, but it is not toxic to the environment. It is because it is made from plant sources. Thus, it does not have any harmful contaminants that might cause health problems for humans and other animals. So, Ecopoxy is no doubt the best substitute for epoxy resin.

Final Thoughts 

By now, you’ve got your answer to the question, “Is epoxy resin toxic?” The answer is yes. Most epoxy resin contains harmful elements dangerous for humans and the environment. However, the key takeaway with the growing demand for epoxy resins, different companies have started to make eco-friendly epoxy resins! These might be a little costly but no doubt worth it.

Thanks for reading through. Hopefully, you’ve found this article helpful. Best regards!

Sources of Information

Coatings, L. G. (2020, January 21). How do Epoxies Negatively Affect our Health? | Lifetime Green Coatings. Lifetimegreencoatings.Com. Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://blog.lifetimegreencoatings.com/

Richardson, H. (2021, October 12). Is Epoxy Resin Toxic? A Guide to Epoxy Resin Safety | AeroMarine. Aeromarine Products Inc. Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://www.aeromarineproducts.com/epoxy-resin-safety-guide/

Arnold, J. (2021, September 14). The 4 Best Food Safe Epoxy Resins. Wood Epoxy World. Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://woodepoxyworld.com/

The Journal of Allergy & The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. (2018, August 1). Unhardened epoxy chemicals can cause asthma. www.aaaai.org. Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://www.aaaai.org/

4 thoughts on “Is Epoxy Resin Toxic? (In-Depth Report)”

  1. Hi there,

    Great article. Thank you for sharing it.

    We had to renew our business floor with epoxy, and the person who sold us the product said not to do it ourselves because it’s harmful to the health. So we hired someone to do it, and although it had cost twice the price, it was worth it. However, next time, I’ll definitely buy the friendly-eco epoxy resin. Just a question, once the epoxy resin is completely dried, is it still nocive for the health?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Daniella, countless gifts. I sincerely value your input.  Once the epoxy resin has been fully cured and hardened, it is safe to use until cracking happens, which might create problems, but the fumes would not be a concern. Ethier case Epoxy is a fantastic product that is still functional, but it must be used with caution and hiring a professional means that the task will be done correctly. You will not have to repair epoxy errors.

      Reply
  2. That is a really good question I never thought about if this could be toxic to breathe in. You answered that question thoroughly. Without proper ventilation and safety equipment, this stuff can become harmful after prolonged exposure. On the other hand, prolonged exposure is not a few minutes it would require several hours of unprotected contact or commercial exposure meaning frequently and excessively. Based on your detailed review I would advise against barehandedly mixing the chemicals for the use of epoxy.

    Reply
    • We must be aware of the toxicity of these everyday but innovative products. Working a little in construction, many take it for granted and ignore the safety gear or use unusable safety gear all for a quick cash injection, and this is a significant source of sickness that is often not spoken about but is genuine if you research the statistical data and even ask around. The majority of the incompetence is just a lack of common sense.

      Thanks, Alex.  

      Reply

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