Safety when working with resin and fibreglass

After making 2 efoil boards, I’m becoming more concerned about the affect working with this stuff has on our health. Reading is revealing that the resin, both the epoxy and polyurethane we use is quite bad for our health. The main risk being through skin contact with uncured epoxy. Over-exposure to uncured resin can cause sensitisation and ultimately the users body being unable to handle being around uncured resins.

  • Here are some articles that provide some insight, I don’t use this epoxy, but these are good articles:

With epoxy/polyurethane resin and fibreglass work highly involved in the building of efoils, I think it is important that we all discuss and are aware of the risks involved.

I personally wear nitrile gloves to prevent skin contact with uncured resin, and wear a face respirator with organic vapour filters to prevent inhaling the hard to notice fumes the epoxy puts out. Polyurethane which is a cheaper resin puts out more noticeable fumes than more expensive epoxy resin.

SX466

  • Is this enough?

  • The next day after the epoxy is applied, I work in shed with the door open with no respirator, even though the epoxy is not fully cured. Is this safe?

What do you think about working with resins and fibreglass and what safety practices would you recommend to make working with it safer??

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Another possibility for the ones that can: mounting an air extractor ensures a negative pressure in the working room or above the working area, that is continuous fresh air renewal. Of course, you cannot do that when it is cold if you don’t warm the incoming air up.

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The goal is to avoid contact. Wear gloves for fresh epoxy and use a real face mask when sanding. Thats the go to method and has been for decades. Don’t rely on one throw away dust masks. They really suck and end up costing more as a proper mask very quickly.

I never heard about harmful epoxy gasses. Humans tend to tolerate harmful gasses much better than solids anyway. See smoking. So as long as you don’t get the dust or uncured epoxy in your system it will be ok.

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Last summer I had a lot of nose bleeding. Did not know what it was. I just continued with resins. In the middle of the night it was crazy lot of blood. My wife googled and found out it was the resin. I bought a good mask. Also sawing and filing the old surfboard was really bad. Be careful people

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Good pointers!

@Louis That does not sound good, how much work were you doing with resin for this to happen? Any other side affects apart from nose bleeding from working with the resin that went away when you started to use the mask?

I was sanding and filing the old surfboard and sanding the new epoxy without any mask, I thought it would be ok for a while.

Meanwhile while having the nosebleedings I just continued, that was silly, but I thought it was some other problem. But the nosebleeding was really bad. I wanted to stop it by sqeezing the nose, but it ran in my throat, and the blood cleaned out all the slime in the throat. That is probably the reason why you get these nosebleedings so bad, your body wants to clean the slime.

Never happend again when using a good mask, also bought a dispossable suit and I clean the working area with mask and leafblower and vacuum cleaner. Stay Safe !

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Thats a bad idea. Sanding is extremely bad. The particles are unhealthy cured or uncured, and a few days old epoxy must not be entirely cured and if the mixing is not perfect, there can always remain some free radicals.

I find hand sanding produces way less airborne dust, it tends to just settle on the floor, so I try to do it that way as much as I can. It does take much longer but worth it for me…

I’ve also used 2 different types of resin. the first board was made with an apparently high quality resin from an eBay seller in Australia. It turns white in spots when it gets water on it, I mixed it very accurately 2:1. know what causes this? and is the white stuff bad to touch? The white stuff doesn’t go off if you rub it with a cloth. This epoxy also gets soft if left to get hot in the sun… here’s a link to that resin, don’t use it!

look closely and you’ll see the white spots from the water…

Then the second board was made with nicer fibreglass and a ‘surfset flex’ resin, which set faster and stays perfectly clear when in touch with water, really happy with this one, also stays stiff when heated unlike the other one.

I used about 3.5L epoxy to make a board.

White spots or epoxy going “milky” is the resin hardened but not fully cured sucking moisture. In your case, you might have ro wait one day more (at least) before sand it.
It will reduce the clogging of the sandpaper as well without having to wash out the (don’t know the English therm but it sounds like ammin).
Don’t wash epoxy out of your hands with solvents (Acetone) 'cause you just thin it for tour skin to suck it! Gloves and open space, or mask.
What everyone must get, is that dust kills.
GRP dry sanding dust is to be avoided, tou can use the same mask or a serious paper mask (FP2 protections in EU, it’s more expensive but you can reuse it for a while).

As usual, you do a one off board every some years… you will not get sick for this. If you do that for living, like working on a boatyards or similar…you better be safe than sorry if you’d like to enjoy retirement one day!
Polyester, (Styrene based) make me sick, sleepy and post-drunk, if I don’t wear full mask on medium sized part, somebody said that epoxy is worst but I deeply doubt. At work the guys from grp dept are checked very often, blood etc. against styrene…they say it’s carcinogenic. Other deep controls are over dust. Wood included!

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Good advice!

I’ve also heard that epoxy resin is worse for you than polyester resin. It definitely could be true, the fact that epoxy doesn’t smell probably makes it seem healthier to work with. I’m going to try making a board with polyester resin to see if I find it better to work with. Do you know what foams it can handle polyester resin?

I got a bad cold after building the last board with epoxy, I’m not sure whether it was just a coincidence or the epoxy exposure had an affect on it. So I’ll try making one with polyester resin and see how it compares. I feel like it could be better and with a mask you would be able to know if it’s working because you can actually smell the fumes.

Most people only react to resin after quite a bit of exposure to it. It has a build up effect. Then again you can also just be allergic.
You most likely just had a standard head cold.
I have a resin mask and always use gloves if I play with it. Its better to just always be on the safe side!
Epoxy is better for efoil application than standard polyester resin. Polyester is more brittle and the foam you use really sucks in water when you get a ding. It also does a nice job delaminating if water gets into the board.

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About sucking water… epoxy/polystyrene boards are the worst.
To use styrene based resins you need “non styrene” foam blanks, like the old days Clark foam or polyester closed cells blank. Heavier, more tricky to shape because the deeper you sand the softer it was inside…but even if you got washed into rocks while surfing… duct tape and back to water, at least the foam didn’t swallow water. Thought I prefer epoxy, in this millennium :slight_smile:
As per workability, epoxy is very sensitive to temperature and moisture, under 12-15 C is better to not use it. Or it won’t cure.
Polyester resins are less sensible but you need to go at a good pace when laminating, because it won’t become gel but still workable like epoxy, it just kicks in, heat up and you can’t go anymore.
To make it worst, you must use vaseline oil to finish the board or it would remain sticky forever! Same goes for gelcoat…
@Jezza is right: doing one board in your life won’t expose you to any health risk, pollutants will affect you when let pile up in your system, one shot usually is not a concern. But why to risk if a cheap breathing mask, gloves, long sleeve shirt plus common sense will prevent?

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I use XPS blanks so have no issue with water absorption.

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I’m using XPS too. The only downside is if you leave it in the sun on a hot day the foam will start to expand. I had this happen on one of my boards, the walls of the battery box started bulging in, maybe the clear polycarbonate lid helped the sun really heat it up. For this reason I think a white paint job is the way to go.