Epoxy Fume Hazards and Fume Control Solutions

Epoxy Fumes

Epoxy use can be found across a wide variety of industries. Also known as polyepoxide, epoxy is available in several different types and can be used for numerous applications. Common processes and materials include adhesive, paints, coatings, wood repairs, marine applications, resurfacing, bonding, priming and sealing, patching, flooring, electrical applications, marine applications, and much more.


Respiratory Precautions

Respiratory precautions should always be considered when working with liquid, partially-cured, and fully cured epoxy. Respirable vapors and particles can form when liquid epoxy evaporates and when partially-cured or fully-cured epoxy is sanded.

Inhalation of these fumes and vapors can lead to inflammation and irritation of the nose, throat, and lungs, which may eventually result in sensitization or occupational asthma. [For additional health information, visit our previous blog entry: Hazards of Epoxy Fumes].

Sensitization to epoxy can occur at any point, regardless of how many times or for how long you’ve been exposed. Your chances of becoming allergic to epoxy will increase if you’re exposed to a greater amount of fumes in an unventilated area, but even one episode of overexposure can lead to an allergic reaction. This is why preventative safety measures are so important. [1]

Several engineering control options are available to help protect your respiratory zone while working with epoxy.

OSHA Recommendations

Workplace Control recommendations, including engineering, workplace, administrative controls and personal protective equipment are covered in OSHA’s Technical Manual on Advanced Composites or Advanced Polymer Matrix Composites, which covers a wide variety of epoxy resin systems.

Because these resin systems vary from product to product, it is imperative to check the included Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for detailed safety information. [We also recommend contacting a Certified Industrial Hygienist when selecting proper safety engineering controls]

According to OSHA:
“Isolation  (e.g., isolated storage, separate process areas, enclosures, closed systems) and local exhaust ventilation are the primary engineering controls found in advanced composite processes.” [2]

Several Local Exhaust Configurations

Sentry Air Systems offers a variety of configurations for local exhaust fume extraction with filtration. These air purification systems have been utilized for a variety of epoxy processes including liquid epoxy applications, epoxy overspray, epoxy control in clean rooms, epoxy curing, and epoxy dust.

Ductless Fume Hoodstypically offer the most containment for epoxy applications. Hoods are available in a variety of standard sizes, from 12” Wide to 70” Wide. Custom options are also available and can include modifications to hood material, hood size, custom cutouts, and much more.
A 40″ Wide Ductless Fume Hood is pictured above
Ductless Spray Booths are equipped with a special internal spray pre-filter for applications with spray epoxies such as 3M’s Super 77 multipurpose adhesive.
A 60″ Wide Ductless Spray Booth is pictured above
Portable Fume Extractorsare a great option for applications that frequently change location within a room or for operators that feel restricted when using a fume hood configuration. Sentry Air’s portable fume extractors feature self-supportive flex arms that can be positioned according to the operator’s preference. Heavy-duty casters are also included for easy mobility.
A Model 300 Portable Fume Extractor is shown above
Other options include wall-mounted and bench-top fume extractors, as well as multiple operator models. The configuration that will work best for you will depend on a variety of factors including: workspace setup, the amount of air volume and filtration media needed, and the number of operators.
A Model 200 Wall-Mounted Sky Sentry Fume Extractor
is pictured above
A Model 300 Benchtop Table Sentry Fume Extractor is pictured above
Sentry Air Systems’ line of epoxy fume extraction equipment is equipped with Activated Carbon Filtration media and a variety of pre-filter options. Sentry Air’s Applications Specialists are available to review your specific epoxy’s MSDS and recommend an appropriate filtration solution based on that information.

Because of the high-quality filtration media used in these systems, the need for exterior ducting and costly heated and cooled make-up air does not exist. These ductless systems utilize an environmentally-friendly recirculating air pattern that improves energy efficiency and reduces your carbon footprint.

For additional information on fume extraction equipment for epoxy fumes and vapors, contact Sentry Air Systems at 1.800.799.4609, email us at sales@sentryair.com, visit our website, or fill out this simple form to receive more information from a Sentry Air Systems Applications Specialist.

Important: This information is provided as a customer service by Sentry Air Systems. All information should be independently verified. It is recommended to consult safety and industrial hygiene professionals to determine suitable respiratory and safety engineering controls while working with epoxy and related composites.

References

[1] westsystem.com, “Health Effects from Overexposure to Epoxy” http://www.westsystem.com/ss/health-effects-from-overexposure-to-epoxy
[2] OSHA Technical Manual, “Polymer Matrix Materials: Advanced Composites”  http://www.osha.gov/dts/osta/otm/otm_iii/otm_iii_1.html#7