Epoxy allergies - options?

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by Lady Sophie, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. Lady Sophie
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Lady Sophie Junior Member

    Several years ago I became sensitized to epoxy while grinding green epoxy on a very hot day. I was soaking in sweat and covered with dust. Now when I work with epoxy I use a full hood PAPR and have no problems. An added benefit is that it keeps me cool on hot days. I have used only West Systems epoxy on the exterior of the boat (33' sailboat) but am now ready to do the interior. While I trust West Systems for their structrural properties I do not need that for interior work. Can anyone recommend another epoxy for interior work? I am hoping my allergic reactions is specific to the chemicals of West Systems and by switching to a different manufacturer I can avoid having to use the PAPR.
  2. FishStretcher
    Joined: Oct 2011
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    FishStretcher Junior Member

    I had a friend with a similar problem- epoxy sensitization. I don't know how many epoxy formulations he tried, but ultimately he had to use vinylester instead. I think all the room temperature cure epoxies you are likely to find will be DGEBA based, so I doubt there is a significant difference there. I have played at a manufacturing facility with other chemistries, but they tended to be more dangerous, not less.

    I have noticed that slower cure epoxies can be much less offensive in an enclosed space- even with the West System. When I can, I use the slow cure hardener when I use their product.
  3. peter radclyffe
    Joined: Mar 2009
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    peter radclyffe Senior Member

    you can cover your face and arms in olive oil before work and your hands after work
  4. portsmouthmarin

    portsmouthmarin Previous Member

    Save your money and your health at the same time. Use vinylester or polyester.

    Epoxy is overkill for making shelves and cabinets.

    There are more solvents and fumes with polyester, but you won't be sensitized. Perhaps the best option is vinylester. Use your protective breathing apparatus and happily work with either one. You can work much more quickly with polyester too. It will set up fast when you need it to.

    Typically, people become allergic to the amine hardeners, which is what nearly all types of epoxies use.
  5. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    so another one Joins the long list !! dont touch the stuff walk away and keep away ,cross the word from your dictionary !!
    vinylester is next on the list so learn all and everying about the stuff ,You will find it has advantages over the poxy stuff ! find and use !!
    Even poly has some pretty good properties reguardless what those poxy uses say !! Time to rethink you work in the glassing industry !!
    Welcome !!
  6. Lady Sophie
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Lady Sophie Junior Member

    Yes, it seems that vinylester is in my future! Fortunately I have nearly all the structural work done and just the interior remains. I have only worked with epoxy - and know nothing about the 'polys. What brands are recommended? Anyone have a line on a good source?
  7. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    You have worked with all the elements just need to think poly there not a lot of differance .
    Epoxy is so over rated and i never found much use for it myself !!,
    The world still goes round and round and the sun will come up again tomorrow !!
    Just get on with it !!:D
  8. El_Guero

    El_Guero Previous Member


    You should be VERY careful no matter what you use next.

    If you sensitized your system, you normally will be sensitive to a very wide range of substances.

    Check with your allergist .... EVEN allergy shots can make you sensitive to new substances ....

    In an enclosed space would be the last place you would want to have an allergy attack.

    The covering in oil would help exposure. But, you really have to keep your eyes, nose, and lungs from exposure - they are both quicker to absorb chemicals into the body.

    Good luck!

  9. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    SamSam Senior Member

    No recommendation on brands, but there are two types of polyester resins- orthophthalic is the most used and cheapest, isophthalic is maybe 25% costlier with better strength and physical application characteristics like less shrinkage, better heat and corrosion resistance properties, tougher etc.
  10. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I suspect Paul will drop in as he's attracted to epoxy discussions like I am.

    Those with sensitivity should avoid West System and other strong blush tendency formulations (like many of those from FGCI). Look for cycloaliphatic formulations instead of amine, amides and polyamide curatives.

    Log onto Paul's site > epoxyproducts.com < and brush up on some of the chemistry and product differences. I'm fairly sure he offers a cycloaliphatic formulation and can help with sensitivity choices.
  11. Herman
    Joined: Oct 2004
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    Herman Senior Member

    I do not know if they are available over there, but both Sicomin SR8500 / 8605 system and Momentive / Hexion / Bakelite / Scheufler L285/H285 system are known to cause less allergic problems, and sometimes can be used even by sensitised people.
  12. pauloman
    Joined: Jun 2010
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    Location: New Hampshire

    pauloman Epoxy Vendor

    Epoxy sensitivity has ended a lot of careers. Since curing agents and additives into the epoxies (probably thousands of potential combinations) are all different, some epoxies will affect you before others. In theory, over time, any epoxy will get you, but folks find that certain brands hit them first. Some folks can work for years and years and then bang - they are affected.

    It is not fumes but chemical contact on the skin often around the wrists (when removing gloves and around the face/eyes (we touch our faces a lot more then we realize)

    With the brand mentioned in this thread (who I never name in public because their approach to less positive comments is their team of attack lawyers - as me how I know - not nice people to my way of thinking) sensitivity seems to happen first. Over the years I have had folks telling me that they cannot use that brand of epoxy, but are still OK using our Basic No Blush.

    Best advice to everyone - avoid skin contact with the epoxy - if you are a messy worker like me, stop when the mess is taking over and epoxy is all over the place. Walk away, let the epoxy setup or cure then come back and pick up where you left off.

    merry christmas and happy holidays all you guys.

    progressive epoxy polymers inc
  13. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    im not a poxy person but a poly and vinylester guy
    Messy workers are all over where ever you go . As a factory manager if a guys a grub i make him work for a week with no protective gear at all . fixes them everytime !!
    Seems safety gear causes more accidents than it stops just about . its a mind set and workers become complacent and rely on there gear to much and get into using equipment and materials in a dangerous manner !!.
    The other threat is if you have a accident your fired !! and that really makes them think!!:( .
  14. michael pierzga
    Joined: Dec 2008
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    And work clean..clean shop. Vacuum evacuation for all sanding tools. Portable vacuum's available to all workmen.

    When I go into a pro composites shop, it looks like a laboratory. No dust, contamination.

    Partially cured resin dust is harmful.

    Horizontal surfaces are big offenders. Eliminate them from your work zone.

    Joined: Nov 2011
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    Location: Mich

    OFFSHORE GINGER Junior Member

    Wow !! Tunnels , you sure have an attitude when it comes to work ethics , and to tell you the truth......... you would never be able to get away with that in the states .
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