FAQ - Safety precautions when working with epoxy

It isn't hard to work with epoxy, but we understand you may have questions if you haven't worked with epoxy often or before. Most asked customer service questions are: "How do I use epoxy safely?", "Should I wear a face mask or not while working with epoxy?", "Can I be allergic to epoxy? "and "Is epoxy harmful to my health?" In this article, based on the most frequently asked questions, you will read all about working safely with epoxy. For more information, please contact our specialists.

1. What is epoxy?

Let's start with a question that many people might already know the answer to: "What is epoxy?" Epoxy is a liquid material from the polymer family. RESION epoxy consists of two components:

A. a liquid base component (resin).

B. a liquid hardener.

After mixing the two components, a chemical reaction will cure the material into a hard, plastic-like, material. Epoxy is easy and safe to process, even for the do-it-yourselfer. Important here is that the mixing ratio is maintained accurately, both components are mixed well together and the correct personal protective equipment is used. Are you working with epoxy resin for the first time or do you want to know more about epoxy? Then check out our page Epoxy for beginners.

2. What chemicals do epoxy and hardener consist of?

Epoxy consists of a base (BADGE or diglycidyl ether of bisphenol-A) and an amine or amide hardener. Both components contain several excipients to allow easy processing.

3. Which substances in epoxy are harmful and which are not?

The label on the epoxy product packages includes various hazard pictograms along with the meaning of them, a description of the hazards (H phrases) and precautions to be taken (P phrases). This information is also included in the safety instructions of the products. We also display this information on the "Label" tab on the product pages.

The meaning of these symbols is as follows:

  • GHS07 Irritating, sensitizing, harmful.
    This means that a temporary effect may occur if the substance is touched or inhaled.

  • GHS05 Skin corrosion
    This means that the substance may cause burns on contact.

  • GHS09 Hazardous to aquatic environment
    This means that the substance (in an uncured state) may have adverse effects on aquatic life.

The above symbols can actually always be found on the packaging of epoxy. Note, however, that these symbols apply to the liquids as contained in the packaging and not to the cured product. If processed in the correct mixing ratio, epoxy will cure into an inert material that has no adverse effects on the environment.

One note to make, however, is the following: there are also epoxy resins and hardeners that carry the following logo:

  • GHS08 Long-term health hazard
    These substances are proven or suspected to be carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic. Polyestershoppen has chosen to exclude epoxy systems carrying this symbol from sale by definition. Unfortunately, there are other suppliers who have no problem with this. We recommend not using these epoxy systems as long-term adverse effects cannot be ruled out.

  • GHS06 Toxic
    Products in this class can cause very serious health damage if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin. With risk of death. We also do not sell products carrying this symbol.
You will NOT find GHS08 and GHS06 pictograms on RESION epoxy.

4. What happens during the curing process of epoxy?

Epoxy cures through a chemical reaction. This reaction forms a chain reaction that releases heat. This is called an ''exothermic polyaddition reaction.'' The 2 components react with each other to form a polymer, the cured epoxy plastic.

Please note: be careful not to create too much resin at once. This may actually cause the epoxy to overheat, resulting in a smoking substance. This is called a "flash cure." In case of a flash cure, put the epoxy outside or pour water over it.

5. Are fumes released during curing?

A frequently asked question is about the fumes that may be released during the curing of epoxy. Both components of epoxy, even if in very small amounts, contain some volatile compounds. During use and the curing process, some of these are released. Avoid prolonged exposure without protection and work in a well-ventilated area. This will allow you to work safely with epoxy.

6. Is the use of a vapour mask mandatory with epoxy?

The use of a vapour mask is not mandatory but is recommended in some cases. In the case of long-term exposure, a vapour mask is a "must. Also, if you work in an area that is not well ventilated, a vapour mask is strongly recommended (see question 8 for appropriate personal protective equipment). When working with epoxy briefly in a well-ventilated area, a vapour mask is not necessary.

As described in the previous question, some volatile compounds are released (in very small quantity) during the curing process. If you want to avoid inhaling these, we recommend purchasing a vapour mask.

7. Can working with epoxy trigger allergic reactions?

Yes, epoxy can cause an allergic reaction. In practice, a small number of people are found to be hypersensitive or allergic to epoxy. This may be one particular type of product or generally apply to almost all epoxy products. This hypersensitivity manifests as skin irritations (redness, rash, swelling), respiratory tract irritations (coughing fits) or headaches. In such cases, stop exposure immediately and seek the outdoors. A doctor's visit may provide definitive information about the cause of the allergy.

8. The use of what protective equipment is advised?

Working with epoxy requires some personal protective equipment. Always be sure to use (nitrile) gloves and work in clothing that covers the skin well. In addition, always work in a well ventilated area and avoid epoxy coming into direct contact with the skin.

For prolonged exposure to epoxy, a vapour mask and protective workwear are required.

Do you work briefly in a well-ventilated area? Then a vapour mask is optional. Do you work briefly in a poorly ventilated area? Then a mask is recommended!

If you want to be on the safe side, it is wise to purchase a fume mask (see question 9) and use it while working with epoxy.

The table below shows the recommended personal protective equipment based on the duration of work with epoxy:

Personal protective equipment Short work session Long work session
Adequate ventilation YES YES
(Nitril) gloves YES YES
Safety glasses YES YES
Half face mask of full face mask Optional (recommended) YES

9. Which mask is suitable for working with epoxy?

We have a number of suitable masks in our product range that are suitable for use when working with epoxy. We briefly explain these below.

  • 3M 6000 Half Face Mask (recommended):
    This 3M half mask fits snugly to the face and features a centrally located exhalation valve. The outlet valve simplifies exhalation and prevents fatigue, which ensures that the mask is very comfortable to wear, without being bothered by fumes.

    A 3M half mask stands for quality and comfort. The mask's exhalation valve ensures greater durability and is also easy to keep clean. In addition, the mask is soft and very lightweight. For the vapour mask, you need two A2 filters that are easily mounted on each side of the mask.

Click here for more information about the 3M 6000 Half Mask Respirator!
  • 3M 4251 Half Face Mask:
    This ready-to-use half mask is lightweight and provides excellent protection while working with epoxy.
    The lightweight, balanced design features a centrally located exhalation valve that helps reduce heat and moisture buildup, keeping you breathing comfortably in hot and humid conditions.

    The integrated filters are maintenance-free; simply use them until the replacement schedule indicates they need to be replaced or until the filters are full. The ready-to-use half face mask can be used for about a month, after which you will need to replace the mask completely (i.e., this mask does not have replaceable filters).

Click here for more information about the 3M 4251 Half Mask Respirator!
  • 3M 6800/6900 Full Face Mask:
    For the best possible face protection while working with epoxy, there is 3M's full face mask. The 3M 6800/6900 series is a full face mask where a large part of the face is covered. In some cases, this helps prevent allergic symptoms. In addition, there is low risk of facial injury when splashing resin. With the right filter, you have the right vapour protection (3M 6055 vapour filters). The 3M full face mask is easy to handle and also comfortable to wear. It includes a durable exhalation valve that is easy to keep clean.
Click here for more information about the 3M 6800/6900 Full Mask Respirator!

10. Is epoxy harmful to the respiratory tract?

When using appropriate personal protective equipment (protective clothing, saftey glasses, gloves, face mask), the risks of respiratory and skin irritation are minimised. Therefore, purchase the appropriate protective equipment and so that you work safely with epoxy.

11. Is the epoxy purchased by Polyestershoppen toxic?

The epoxy products purchased by Polyestershoppen are among the most human & environmentally friendly in the industry. They are solvent-free in all cases. The volatile organic compound (VOC) content is very low to zero. We do not supply toxic, GHS06 marked products. Nor do we supply epoxy resins that should be labeled GHS08 (long-term health hazard).

12. What is the difference between the epoxy sold by Polyestershoppen and that of another supplier?

Our epoxy suppliers are reputable European manufacturers who are ISO 9001 certified. They work with high-quality production equipment in modern production sites. The product range of our suppliers is the result of a careful selection in terms of people & environment, quality and sustainability. From these, Polyestershoppen selects the most product-suitable and people-friendly systems whose technical properties and suitability per application and substrate have been tested and approved. If necessary, we modify the epoxy resins to make them suitable for specific applications.

More information about working with epoxy?

Personal protective equipment can be found at Polyestershoppen in the category Personal protection. We hope all your questions about working with epoxy have been answered. hould you need further information, you can take a look at our information centre. Here we provide you with all the expert knowledge you need to work with epoxy. Of course, you can also contact us at any time. Our team of specialists will be happy to help you. So you can start working with epoxy safely!

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Do you have a question?

Do you have a specific question? Call one of our specialists for free advice +3185 0220090