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post #1 of 17 Old 06-03-2013 Thread Starter
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Epoxy allergy

It seems almost conclusive, I have developed an allergy to epoxy and my boatbuilding days are over.
Since November I have had severe poison ivy-like rashes all over my neck, shoulders and arms controllable only with steroid injections and a regimen of prednisone. Docs couldnt figure it out. I knew there seemed to be a temporal correlation with me rebuilding the transom on my Tolman Skiff beginning in November but I was not working with uncured epoxy then, just cuttings and dust.. When I began working with the resin I would get it all over my bare hands and it never bothered me there. I use my fingers to smooth the uncured epoxy seemingly with no ill effects.
After a week of a lot of sanding, grinding and putting on glass and epoxy putty, I am in trouble an am nearly bathing in prescription strength cortisone cream. However, last night i was telling my son, "It makes no sense, I get it all over my hands without any effect at all" He then says, "I've seen how you work, every time you get it on your hands you immediately use that FAst Orange cleaner on your hands and then wash them to get it off but you wait for hours after sanding to take a shower, Of course your hands are clear but your neck and shoulders where the dust falls has that rash and so do your arms where you get covered with the sanding dust".
Unfortunately, in Tallahassee where the temperature and humidity routinely reach 99, suiting up in Tyvek, gloves and a respirator is not an option. So, not sure if I will ever build another boat.
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post #2 of 17 Old 06-03-2013
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Re: Epoxy allergy

While it sucks that this happened to you the work habits your describing will cause about 99% of the worlds population to become epoxy allergic

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post #3 of 17 Old 06-03-2013
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Re: Epoxy allergy

Multiple chemical sensitivity. It is probably the solvents you are reacting to. avoiding all chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents for two or three years may help significantly. Not related but perhaps contributory, gluten sensitivity (wheat) very easy test for any ;doctor to perform. I live with MCS, I worked with too many solvents. It rarely gets better be careful.
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post #4 of 17 Old 06-03-2013
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Re: Epoxy allergy

My first thought was possibly due to fiberglass dust from the sanding getting all over you. I've had a similar reaction once on my forearms from sanding fiberglass but not from sanding epoxy.

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post #5 of 17 Old 06-03-2013
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Re: Epoxy allergy

it can happen to anyone and has ended many an epoxy industry career. Eventually it can happen with any epoxy you work with, but often switching to a different brand of marine epoxy can help - I know of folks that cannot use brand X but have no problem with brand Y.

One of the leading marine epoxy brands (and very likely the one you might be using) - has the worst record for the epoxy rash. Their marine epoxy still uses formaldehyde in its formulation and that might be why it is worst than the other brands of formulated epoxies.

Send me a private message and I can be more specific.

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post #6 of 17 Old 06-03-2013
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Re: Epoxy allergy

white vinegar will remove uncured epoxy. I'm guessing it's more the dust then the epoxy Frogwatch.

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post #7 of 17 Old 06-03-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Epoxy allergy

I always figured I was indestructible and immune to everything but poison ivy and malaria. Apparently, I am more mortal than I thought.
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post #8 of 17 Old 06-03-2013
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Re: Epoxy allergy

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Originally Posted by pauloman View Post

One of the leading marine epoxy brands (and very likely the one you might be using) - has the worst record for the epoxy rash. Their marine epoxy still uses formaldehyde in its formulation and that might be why it is worst than the other brands of formulated epoxies.

Send me a private message and I can be more specific.
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post #9 of 17 Old 06-03-2013
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Re: Epoxy allergy

I also have developed an allergic reaction to a wide range of solvents including those used in epoxies, latex paints and diesel liquid and vapor.

When working with solvents I work outside or with a large box fan venting to the exterior, a canister type painters mask and a barrier cream on exposed skin (so far diaper rash cream works best).

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post #10 of 17 Old 06-08-2013
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Re: Epoxy allergy

I know you said you can't but I'd suit up in Tyvek and respirator. Do your epoxy work early AM or late when temps drop down. A boatyard guy here has the same issue; he works in an area where the weather is 100+ but has to wear Tyvek. He plans his work day to do the epoxy stuff early AM before the heat builds.

You might also try switching to vinylester resin instead of epoxy. It smells really bad when curing so you probably will want that respirator anyway.
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