Epoxy Safety

Photo Credit: Boston Boatworks

Epoxy safety is essential.

Epoxy is a chemical product and should be handled with care.


A team works with Epoxy, wearing safety masks and protective gear.

Overexposure To Epoxy

The risk of exposure to epoxy resin, hardener, and mixed epoxy is most significant when liquid.

As epoxy cures, the chemical ingredients react to form a non-hazardous solid. As it solidifies, epoxy and its components are less likely to enter the body.

Skin contact is the most common route of exposure to epoxy resins and hardeners. Even minor skin contact can cause chronic health problems if repeated often enough. In rare cases, prolonged or repeated contact can cause the skin to absorb harmful epoxy ingredients.

Exposure by inhaling vapors is unlikely because epoxy products evaporate slowly. However, overexposure to epoxy increases when ventilation is inadequate or when the products are heated.

People rarely ingest epoxy, but it can happen when resin, hardener, or mixed epoxy contaminates food, beverages, or eating surfaces and when good hygiene and clean-up practices are not followed. If you or someone working with ingests epoxy, call Poison Control immediately at 1-800-222-1222 or use the webPOISON CONTROL tool.


Preventing overexposure starts with limiting your exposure to hazardous materials.

This means more than using respirators, goggles, and protective clothing. The following guidelines are geared for an industrial setting. Consider the following steps to protect yourself from epoxy or other hazardous materials.

Step 1: Review The Epoxy Products

Make informed decisions about the epoxy products you use. Use the least hazardous product that will do the job. Often, a product with minimal health hazards that is adequate or even superior for the job can reduce or eliminate the hazard source.

Step 2: Prep Your Shop

Set up a safe shop. Install equipment or use procedures that prevent or reduce exposure. This can include ventilation or specialized storage for hazardous materials. Effective ventilation can range from expensive, high-tech air-filtration and exhaust systems to bare floor or window fans and is helpful for a wide range of vapors and dust. A dedicated cabinet or isolated area for storing hazardous materials can help reduce exposure.

Step 3: Protect Yourself

Wear protective equipment (goggles, safety glasses, gloves, respirators, protective clothing, etc.) appropriate for the job. The recommended minimum for most epoxy users is gloves, eye protection, and protective clothing. Protect yourself from epoxy vapors using respiratory protection, including an air-purifying respirator with an organic vapor or multi-contaminate cartridge. The approved respiratory protection against epoxy, wood, and nuisance dust is a dust/mist mask or respirator with an N95 rating or better.

If you develop a reaction, stop using the product. Resume work only after the symptoms disappear, usually after several days. When you resume work, improve your safety precautions to prevent exposure to epoxy, its vapors, and sanding dust. If problems persist, discontinue use and consult a physician.

Wear appropriate eye protection to protect your eyes from contact with epoxy resin, hardeners, mixed epoxy, and sanding dust. If epoxy gets in your eyes, immediately flush them with water under low pressure for 15 minutes. If discomfort persists, seek medical attention.

Avoid breathing concentrated epoxy vapors and sanding dust. Our epoxies have a low volatile organic content (VOC), but vapors can build up in unvented spaces. Providing ample ventilation when working with epoxy in confined spaces, such as boat interiors, is important in preventing overexposure. When you can’t adequately ventilate your workspace, wear appropriate respiratory protection.

Provide ventilation and wear a dust/mist mask or respirator when sanding epoxy, especially partially cured epoxy. Breathing partially cured epoxy dust increases your risk of sensitization. Although epoxy cures quickly to a sandable solid, it may take over two weeks at room temperature or elevated temperature after curing to completely cure.

Avoid ingesting epoxy. Wash thoroughly after handling epoxy, especially before eating or smoking. If you swallow epoxy, rinse your mouth with water. DO NOT induce vomiting. Hardeners are corrosive and can cause additional harm if vomited. Call a physician immediately. Refer to First Aid procedures on the product’s Safety Data Sheets.


  • Always select the least toxic and least flammable solvent for the job. Avoid solvents completely if at all possible.
  • Do not smoke or use equipment that may generate sparks near solvent vapors or storage areas. Store solvents in tightly closed, approved containers, a safe distance from any ignition source, and out of children’s reach.
  • Use solvents only in well-ventilated areas. Bring fresh air into your shop and exhaust solvent-laden air. In confined areas, wear the appropriate respiratory protection. If you can, set up a basic mechanical ventilation scheme for all projects calling for solvents.
  • Take special care in hot weather, when solvents evaporate quickly and are more likely to ignite.
  • Do not operate power machinery or climb ladders if you have been working with solvents in a confined area. If you feel drowsy, nauseated, *high* or irritable while using solvents, immediately move to fresh air. Fresh air is the first aid for unconsciousness resulting from overexposure to solvent vapors.
Photo Credit: Dreamboat, designed and built by Van Dam Custom Boats.
Photo Credit: Dreamboat, designed and built by Van Dam Custom Boats.


Many solvents pose serious health and safety hazards, and the government is increasingly regulating worker exposure and overall usage.

Epoxy users commonly use solvents to dissolve epoxy from tools and degrease surfaces before bonding. Solvents’ ability to dissolve and degrease is part of why they are hazardous to health. They leach oils from the skin and break down protective fatty layers, making the skin more susceptible to dermatitis. While dermatitis is the most common skin problem caused by solvents, the dangers don’t stop there.

Once solvents have penetrated the protective skin layers, they may quickly find their way into the bloodstream, where they can absorb toxic amounts. If you use a solvent to clean epoxy from your skin, your skin can absorb both the solvent and the dissolved epoxy, intensifying epoxy exposure.

Almost all solvents are toxic if you swallow, absorb, or inhale enough. Solvents can irritate your respiratory system, eyes, and skin. Some solvents may damage your heart, liver, and other vital organs. Several solvents have been linked to cancer.

Repeatedly inhaling low to moderate levels of solvents can irritate the respiratory tract. Because of their drying effect, solvents can also interfere with the lung’s natural ability to clean themselves of impurities. When inhaled in high concentrations, solvents may depress the central nervous system. This is called narcosis. Symptoms of overexposure range from nausea and irritability to something that resembles alcohol intoxication. Continued overexposure to particularly toxic solvents can lead to loss of consciousness, permanent brain damage, and death.

OSHA sets Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for chemicals based on the amount or vapor level a worker can safely be exposed to in a given time period. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists also sets exposure levels based on an 8-hour time-weighted average, called Threshold Limit Values (TLVs). These values are expressed in parts of contaminant per million parts of air.


PRO-SET® Epoxy Resin and Hardeners are not considered hazardous wastes in their purchased form, using the criteria outlined in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). However, some state and local regulations and disposal facilities may require additional lab analysis or evaluation of a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to determine if your wastes satisfy their requirements. It is always the end user’s responsibility to dispose of their waste properly.

The following guidelines should help you make the right decisions when it comes time to dispose of unused epoxy resin and hardener.

  • You do not have to designate unused resin and hardener as waste if you may use them on a future project. PRO-SET® Epoxy products have a long shelf life when stored in sealed containers. Use the product on another project.
  • You may dispose of cured epoxy (resin and hardener mixed at the proper ratio and completely solidified) as a non-hazardous solid.
  • Dispose of empty product containers only after you follow these simple empty rules: (1) You’ve made every effort to empty the container, and (2) no more than three percent by weight of the total capacity of the container remains in the container. Containers drain more completely when warm.
  • Keep waste to a minimum. Work with small batches of epoxy. When emptying a container for disposal, collect the residue for use on a future project.
  • Reclaim for further use of epoxy resin or hardener collected from a spill or leak. If it is contaminated, designate it as waste. If you have used a solvent to clean up a spill, the resultant mixture of solvent and epoxy may become a regulated hazardous waste. Respect the environment. Don’t release hazardous wastes directly into the land, air, or water. Many communities organize periodic waste collections, where consumers can take household wastes for safe disposal, usually free of charge.

Safely dispose of epoxy resin, hardener, and empty containers. Puncture a corner of the can and drain residue into the appropriate new container of resin or hardener. Do not dispose of resin or hardener in a liquid state as you would typically refuse in a workplace or household. Mix and cure waste resin and hardener (in small quantities) to make a non-hazardous inert solid. CAUTION! Pots of curing epoxy can get hot enough to ignite surrounding combustible materials and produce hazardous fumes. Place pots of mixed epoxy in a safe and ventilated area, away from workers and combustible materials. Please dispose of the solid mass only after completely curing and cooling.

The disposal guidelines above may not comply with your area’s laws and regulations. If uncertain, refer to local, state, and federal regulations. Also, this section has addressed only the disposal of our epoxy resin and hardener. Boatbuilding and repair projects generate many hazardous wastes, including bottom paint, gel coat, paints, and solvents. These materials can harm the environment, so identify and dispose of them properly.

Bottom of a car covered in carbon fibre.

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