Epoxy Allergy - Suggestions on How to Finish a Boat?

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by Chotu, Mar 11, 2018.

  1. Chotu
    Joined: Mar 2018
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    Location: Florida

    Chotu New Member

    PART 1:

    I have a pretty strong epoxy allergy. Enough to break out in hives and have problems breathing from just the smell of epoxy. I'm allergic to the amines in the hardener. BPA is terrible for you, but not something I'm allergic to.

    Does anyone know of a hypoallergenic epoxy without amines in the hardener?

    PART 2:

    Assuming I can't find any epoxy to use, I still need to complete the interior of a fairly good size boat. It's a completely empty hull. It's balsa core and foam core in various parts, with a 34oz fiberglass skin (epoxy) over the core.

    What are some alternate ways to finish out the hull? I need to place runners (like stringers, really) along the hull to support cabin soles, to support ceilings, to act as frames for cabinetry, etc. A normal person would epoxy these into place. I can't do that. Is it possible to use screws into the laminate or is this asking for trouble?

    Since I can't use foam and epoxy for the interior, I figured I'd use 1/4" marine ply, glued and screwed then painted with epoxy for most things, stick frame. What else can I do?

    I will hire someone else to get into the epoxy and paint all of this wood with epoxy to waterproof it.

    For things like stairs to go down into the hulls, I already have laminates left from hull construction. I'm wondering if infusing them and having someone else mix the epoxy outside the boat and piping it in might work?

    Any good ideas here?
     
  2. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

  3. Nautically Obsessed
    Joined: Feb 2018
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    Location: California

    Nautically Obsessed Junior Member

    Doggonnit! I was reading a web page the other day on that, but I can't find it. I think it was duckworksbbs.com or the Glen-L site, but I can't find it. As I recall, the alternative was polyester resin, but it is not as strong as epoxy. Note that fiberglass matting requires polyester resin, so you might use that.

    You can contact technical support at WestSystem - see the bottom of Epoxy Problem Solver & FAQ - WEST SYSTEM Epoxy https://www.westsystem.com/instruction-2/epoxy-basics/problem-solver-faq/

    Or try contacting Tap Plastics: Contact Us : TAP Plastics https://www.tapplastics.com/about/contact
     
  4. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    If you are allergic to that extent, a boat built with a different material is probably the only solution. Even if someone else finishes the boat, there will be amines left.
     
  5. Chotu
    Joined: Mar 2018
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    Location: Florida

    Chotu New Member

    I have already built the boat, so I can't really build one with a different material. I'm asking how to proceed with this one.

    Eco Green epoxy isn't returning emails to order the product. I'll keep trying.

    What are my options aside from Eco Green which is the best option so far?

    Can I screw wood to the glass and foam laminate? Or is that a bad idea?

    Would infusing be worthwhile in man hours for all these small things and cabinets and stuff?
     
  6. jorgepease
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    jorgepease Senior Member

    Infusing drastically reduces your exposure to epoxy and might be enough but if you are sensitized then you might still have a reaction just from mixing the stuff. Wear full body protection and a fresh air breather. Instead of taping you likely can bond using adhesives like plexus....

    Also beware removing any peelply and fairing, that epoxy dust is worse than breathing or touching the wet stuff!
     
  7. fallguy
    Joined: Dec 2016
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    fallguy Senior Member

    Cabinetry does not require epoxy. If you use certified marine plywood; you can simply varnish or poly them to seal and build that with wood and staples and pl glues.

    What is the status of the project? Pictures?

    The worst odors in my shop are when i pull peelply and breather. From now on i’ll mask up.
     
  8. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    What about giving entropy resins super sap a try/call?

    Has amines...not sure if less.
     
  9. Rumars
    Joined: Mar 2013
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    Rumars Senior Member

    You should not screw into the cored laminate, the interior should be glued in with epoxy.
    One option would be to use a level A hazmat suit. Anything below that is not gas tight, so useless to you. Have a shover before you take off the suit.
    Next option is to build the interior in marine ply and rot resistant wood and have someone else tab it in. The question is how to do that efficiently. One way would be to glue in wooden or solid fiberglass cleats as you mentioned. Anything else would be screwed or bolted to that. That means you need a full mockup of the interior in order to know where to place the cleats.
    Another way is to make the furniture, use VHB tape to stick it into position and then someone else can tab it in using epoxy fillets and FG tape like a bulkhead.
     
  10. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    Perhaps the best advice is from Gonzo. You need to avoid or reduce epoxy in the internal finishes or may not be able to use the boat.

    If you use some good pu glues; you can cleat with it and find an alternative sealer for the ply.
     
  11. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    Looks like ecogreen is bs...says product coming soon and the website is as I saw it a year and half ago doing my product research for current build.

    Sorry...I did not elect to use them; so no interaction...I just remembered reading about it and shared.
     
  12. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    All of the usually available marine epoxies will use an amine in the cure process. There are some formulations that react differently to those that are sensitized, but as to which will work best for you, well this is a hunt and peck sort of thing. Yes, non-amine cure epoxies exist, though aren't very common, nor particularly available or cheap.

    Save epoxy use is completely dependent on appropriate procedures and precautions. Most that become sensitized can simply wait a few months, then continue on, usually with changes to their procedures and/or epoxy brand. Taking these basic precautions can ease exposure, which is the key to further encounters. Look for a low amine blush formulation, which is easier on you. Some techniques can help too, such as peel ply or other coverings. Don't sand epoxy that is not fully cured (less then two weeks) without appropriate particulate protection (mask, clothing, etc.).

    The bottom line is, most haven't used reasonable protections and have developed these issues. Keep it off your skin, don't use solvents to remove it from your skin, keep your skin covered, use particulate masks, etc. and follow the common procedures.

    Which brand are you using?
     
  13. ondarvr
    Joined: Dec 2005
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    ondarvr Senior Member

    If "green" or "eco friendly" epoxies are anything like their polyester counterparts, then they are no more green, Eco friendly, or safer to use than the normal formulas, they just use different feed stocks to make the hazardous chemicals used in the product. The feed stocks for glycols used in polyester bio resins are from corn or other similar crops, the glycols made from them are no different than the glycols made from other sources, which are frequently by-products of processing and refining other products.

    So you end with the exact same end product, that has all the same health and safety issues.
     
  14. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    That's correct, to make them "green" they've made some substitutions, from petrol-chemicals to others, The process of manipulating them into the separate elements that can become a BPA, BPF, etc. will still make them harsh, but as a rule these tend to become completely inert once fully cured. The problem is, we never work with fully cured goos, so issues arise.
     

  15. kika
    Joined: Mar 2018
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    Location: Bay Area, CA

    kika New Member

    I studied chemistry in the Soviet Union and we had mandatory military training (kind of ROTC in the States, but mandatory for all males) in "chemical warfare". And I guess the ultimate solution to this problem is "supplied air respirator". Full hazmat suit with rebreather is super heavy and requires a very strong will (or a threat of being suspended in the college) to work in for extended periods of time. Amines are not (very) toxic, they just trigger the allergic reaction, so in chemical warfare, the equivalent would be "irritating agent" like tear gas. So one need to isolate them from touching mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) and skin (because amines can penetrate it enough to cause allergy). By wearing good clothing, gloves, and a supplied air full face gas mask one can prevent amines from touching the body.
    Supplied air mask works off the air tank (like scuba) or it could be connected with a long hose to a compressor outside.
    Hazmat is an overkill, IMHO.
    Just my 2c worth.
     
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