Epoxy and Acetone

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HeliDev

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Hi Guys,

I was doing some reading around, and I found reference in another thread on a different site stating that using acetone with epoxy can increase the likely hood of becoming epoxy sensitive.

The theory is that the acetone removes the oils from your skin, and make the chemicals able to pass through the skin more easily.

I know un-cured epoxy can be nasty stuff, but I have never heard of acetone increasing the likely hood of becoming epoxy intolerant. I have searched around, but have only found a little info.

Has any one else heard of this?
 

Norman

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I've heard that too. Some solvents are worse than others in this regard. It's just prudent to assume that any solvent is going to make handling chemicals more hazardous unless the manufacturer specifically states otherwise.
 

Mac790

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Hi Guys,

I found reference in another thread on a different site stating that using acetone with epoxy can increase the likely hood of becoming epoxy sensitive
Did you find reference that acetone is carcinogenic? I would worry about it more.

Rule number:
1 Always use proper mask attachment
2 Never touch anything with bare hands.
3 Good ventilation is the key to success.

Seb
 

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etterre

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I think I've seen the same things... but ask yourself what difference would it make if you were actually wearing gloves!
My research indicates that the nitrile gloves are the ones that will actually block the chemicals in the hardener that cause the sensitivity issue and won't be dissolved by acetone. I'm not convinced that a vapor mask is useful in everyday use for two reasons:
1. The volatile chemicals in current epoxies aren't scientifically known to be harmful at the sort of levels you're likely to see - you weren't planning to eat or swim in it, right? Yes, some of them stink. Yes, you can create a "fog" effect with large layups, a heat gun, and an enclosed space - but do you really need to do that?
2. The life of the activated carbon in the cartridges is measured in hours, not days or months. So how many cases of cartridges do you want to buy?

As for the cancer angle, here's what Dow has to say about acetone (and remember how big a lawsuit they'd get if they lied) Acetone As for me, I'm more worried about acetone catching on fire... vinegar seems to be a whole lot safer for tool cleaning... as for my skin: I'll wear a painter's tyvek suit when practical and for the big messy things and buy cases of nitrile gloves.
 

Dana

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Note too that women have been using acetone for years as nail polish remover...

-Dana

If cars had followed the same developmental path as computers, a Rolls Royce would cost $100, get a million miles per gallon and explode once a year, killing everyone inside.
 

Mac790

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I think I've seen the same things... but ask yourself what difference would it make if you were actually wearing gloves!
Difference for what, allergy, probably very little. Personaly I dont have any allergy (I can work with epoxies, polyester, vinylester np), but one of my friends have an alergy, gloves don't help him at all. But you don't need to use chemicals after work to clean your hands.

I'm not convinced that a vapor mask is useful in everyday use
I was rather thinking about bigger layups, when you need to work for a few (5-6) hours, and of course when you sand or cut composites. But other way if someone have epoxy allergy on hands, so I'm wondering what's his lungs condition.
vinegar seems to be a whole lot safer for tool cleaning... as for my skin:
That what I'm talking about we have more modern products, less harmful so why use old ones.

Dana said:
Note too that women have been using acetone for years as nail polish remover...
Of course but it doesn't change anything. It's different story if you use it twice a week for 5min or every day for a few hours. My local/national supplier doesn't sell acetone any more, because it's toxic, but I suppose that we have more restrictions here in Europe.
Do you know that back in 50's, they were using shoe fitting X-Ray device, until they realized it's a harmful radiation.
Shoe Fitting X-Ray Device - MuseumofQuackery.com

Btw I don't push anybody to anything, If you feel fine without protection fine. I've seen a very "brave" people, for example, some of them were sanding composites without any protection, and they were breatheing in all that dust with small pieces of glass, I'm wondering how long will they live. One of my relatives died of lung cancer, he was working with "unharmful" chemicals, but one day scientists realized that these chemicals were harmful unfortunately it was to late for him.


Seb
 

etterre

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Sorry - I was in a hurry when I wrote my first reply... and now it sounds a little "cowboy"

...but one of my friends have an alergy, gloves don't help him at all.
That, to me, is the core of the problem: In all the stories I've heard, you're screwed once you develop the allergy - some folks can't even sit in a completely cured plane. All the evidence I've seen is anecdotal and in all of the ones that I've read, the allergy sufferer got uncured epoxy on their skin multiple times before they developed the allergy. Some folks seem to be able to handle it 40 hours a week for several years, other folks only seem to last a few months of homebuilding. Most of my research was done a couple of years ago and my conclusion was that I'll do my best to keep the stuff off my skin (like I probably should do with most chemicals), but it's not a risk at the life-endangering level.

I was rather thinking about bigger layups, when you need to work for a few (5-6) hours, and of course when you sand or cut composites.
I'll wear a dust mask for sanding, cutting, and messing with micro (but micro is small enough that the dust mask probably doesn't help a whole lot)... The problem is that it's all about particle size. The vapor masks (like the pic you had) are good for keeping aromatics (think paint fumes) out of your lungs for a couple of hours, but larger particles, like sanding dust, just clogs up the surface filter on the cartridge. After that clogs, you usually wind up breathing through a bypass valve that offers no filtering at all.

But other way if someone have epoxy allergy on hands, so I'm wondering what's his lungs condition.
As far as I can tell, it's a real allergy - so it's the immune system over-reacting to a particular chemical and it usually doesn't matter how the allergen gets into your bloodstream.

My local/national supplier doesn't sell acetone any more, because it's toxic, but I suppose that we have more restrictions here in Europe.
Toxic in what way? I haven't found anything that suggests that anything beyond reasonable care is required (avoid getting it all over your skin, don't drink it, don't use it in an enclosed area). I'm actually curious about whether I need to treat it more carefully.

To me the punchline is about doing what you can to avoid the risks you know about in a way that balances the costs.
 

orion

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I actually looked into this some years back - I was primarily using MEK in my shop for cleaning and as a solvent for thinning epoxy and surfacing compounds, but was concerned regarding its effects. Back when I worked at Boeing we used it for cleaning and degreasing but the continued exposure at times dried out my skin on the elbows to the point where the skin actually cracked and started bleeding.

Calling up several of my contacts and friends who had a background in chemistry and bio-chemistry revealed that although Acetone can also remove oils from your skin, it does so to a much lower extent so its use should have minimal impact when used with a reasonable amount of protection (gloves at least, combined with something like a Tyvek suit is better).

And unlike MEK, Acetone is not toxic (except to those that might have a sensitivity to the fumes) in as it can also be produced by the human body naturally. No, don't take a bath in it but according to the Material Safety Data Sheet, long term exposure does not pose a concern.

Regarding epoxy sensitivity, "etterre" is right on - some folks can work with the resins day to day for years and have no effect. Others however can develop a sensitivity over a few months, sometimes to the point where even a light, casual contact with a cured layup can cause a significant reaction.

Most of this however has been determined to be a function of the hardener, especially in the formulations used before about ten to fifteen years ago. I've been using several products for years but about ten years ago I needed something quick (when I ran out of my standard products) so I bought a compound that I never worked with before. On cleaning up I accidentally splashed a bit of "nearly" clean Acetone on me that I used for a final cleaning of the containers I was using - the result was nearly instantaneous: The arm on which I got the Acetone (maybe a couple of drops) almost immediately broke out in a rash. The redness and bumps quickly spread along almost the whole arm and the effect lasted for almost a week. No other product has ever caused that before or since but now I really just stick to what I know.
 

Rom

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The best cleaner I have found for cleanup with apoxy seems to be just plain vinegar. I have used both acetone and vinegar, I quit using acetone.
 

Dana

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I've always used tolulene (lacquer thinner) for cleaning up epoxy. I'll have to try acetone next time.

-Dana

Growing old is inevitable, but we can stay immature indefinitely.
 

Mac790

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In all the stories I've heard, you're screwed once you develop the allergy - some folks can't even sit in a completely cured plane.
That's why I think it's a good idea to use proper gloves, suits, mask etc, just to minimalized contact with a potenctial allergen.
I'll wear a dust mask for sanding, cutting, and messing with micro (but micro is small enough that the dust mask probably doesn't help a whole lot)... The problem is that it's all about particle size. The vapor masks (like the pic you had) are good for keeping aromatics (think paint fumes) out of your lungs for a couple of hours, but larger particles, like sanding dust, just clogs up the surface filter on the cartridge. After that clogs, you usually wind up breathing through a bypass valve that offers no filtering at all.
It was only a sample, you can get a better dust mask (you can buy them for specific size of "dust"), but of course you never get 100% protection, unless you use oxygen cylinder:), I always wear a dust mask when I cut, sand, etc and I feel much better with them than without them. (I never have a cough or something after work). In my opinion it's much safer to work with them, than without them or with a paper dust mask.
As far as I can tell, it's a real allergy - so it's the immune system over-reacting to a particular chemical and it usually doesn't matter how the allergen gets into your bloodstream.
That's why I think it's better to use a mask, to keep away potencial allergen not only far away from your skin, but also far away from your lungs as well.
Toxic in what way? I haven't found anything that suggests that anything beyond reasonable care is required (avoid getting it all over your skin, don't drink it, don't use it in an enclosed area). I'm actually curious about whether I need to treat it more carefully.
I don't remmber exactly, last time I worked with aceton about 2 years ago, one day I went for another bottle and they said, "we dont sell it anymore it's toxic", I couldn't get it in any shop (I live in a 600 000 people city, so we have a lot of shops with chemicals) offical version was because it's toxic, unofficial because some people use it for amphetamine production, it was even impossible to buy a nail polisher remover with acetone, I rember I did some research back then, and I found some info about potential carcinogenic effects.
Today I did a short research and I didn't find anything specific besides irritation of the eyes and respiratory system, mood swings, nausea, and mild nervous system effects soon after exposure, etc nothing "really" serious.
To me the punchline is about doing what you can to avoid the risks you know about in a way that balances the costs.
Yes I completly agree with that.
Orion said:
Calling up several of my contacts and friends who had a background in chemistry and bio-chemistry revealed that although Acetone can also remove oils from your skin
But even ordinary soap can remove oils (skin natural barrier) from your skin. If we are talking about same oil.
as it can also be produced by the human body naturally
Of course you are right here it's produced not only by us but for example by plants as well, but in a small amount.
Others however can develop a sensitivity over a few months, sometimes to the point where even a light, casual contact with a cured layup can cause a significant reaction.
It's always makes me wonder epoxy seems to be more "friendly' than polyester resin for example, but personaly I've never heard about any allergy (like that) reaction caused by polyester resin.
I've been using several products for years but about ten years ago I needed something quick (when I ran out of my standard products) so I bought a compound that I never worked with before. On cleaning up I accidentally splashed a bit of "nearly" clean Acetone on me that I used for a final cleaning of the containers I was using - the result was nearly instantaneous: The arm on which I got the Acetone (maybe a couple of drops) almost immediately broke out in a rash. The redness and bumps quickly spread along almost the whole arm and the effect lasted for almost a week. No other product has ever caused that before or since but now I really just stick to what I know
Do you remember exactly what was that? just to keep away from it.


Seb
 

orion

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Do you remember exactly what was that? just to keep away from it.
I believe it was a Jeffco product - the hardener was sort of a dark amber in color. Since then I've been pretty paranoid about any amber colored catalyst. Today the only two manufacturers' epoxy products I use are those of Hysol and 3M.
 

Mac790

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I believe it was a Jeffco product - the hardener was sort of a dark amber in color. Since then I've been pretty paranoid about any amber colored catalyst .
Thanks for your response I'll remember to keep away from it just in case.

Seb
 

lr27

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I've also tried vinegar and it's the best cleanup solvent for epoxy I've used.

When building boats, I've used latex gloves over disposable polyethylene gloves (which are cheap at Lab Safety). Seemed to keep the acetone out, which the latex alone would NOT. Plus it was a backup if the latex failed, yet I still had pretty good sensitivity to touch. Sweaty, though.

I wonder if it wouldn't make sense for people doing projects like this to use a remote air supply? The commercial ones are pretty expensive, but I once made a temporary CPAP machine with corrugated plastic hose (for your cellar's sump pump) and some dual computer fans from eBay. (I think they were 45mm square and 50mm long or something). These dual fans can handle a fair amount of back pressure, although perhaps you'd want to use more than one pair to increase flow if you were huffing and puffing or had mask fogging problems. I wouldn't use anything like this in an environment that was immediately life threatening, of course. And I'd want to be really sure the source was in an area with clean air.
 

Jonas

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Hi Guys,

There is nothing wrong with being over cautious with chemicals.

I'm starting to get a little older, and the longer I've been around, the more I notice that guys who worked with chemicals without any protection are either not enjoying their later years because of severe organ damage or they are simply dead.

If you want to see an example, go to your local automotive body shop and just seek out their oldest employee, then try to hold an intelligent conversation with him. You'll see what I mean.

Chemicals are bad for you, and you don't get a second chance.

Buying some personal protection equipment might seem expensive at the time, but when you lose half your life because you wanted to save a few hundred dollars, the tradeoff just isn't worth it.

There are a lot of builders who die of cancer or kidney failure months before their initial flight. Ask around, I'm sure someone near you has already been affected by this.
 

rv6ejguy

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Hi Guys,

There is nothing wrong with being over cautious with chemicals.

I'm starting to get a little older, and the longer I've been around, the more I notice that guys who worked with chemicals without any protection are either not enjoying their later years because of severe organ damage or they are simply dead.

If you want to see an example, go to your local automotive body shop and just seek out their oldest employee, then try to hold an intelligent conversation with him. You'll see what I mean.

Chemicals are bad for you, and you don't get a second chance.

Buying some personal protection equipment might seem expensive at the time, but when you lose half your life because you wanted to save a few hundred dollars, the tradeoff just isn't worth it.

There are a lot of builders who die of cancer or kidney failure months before their initial flight. Ask around, I'm sure someone near you has already been affected by this.
Couldn't agree more with protection. For 3 decades, every time I use anything moderately noisy- lawnmower, lathe, drill press, die grinder, angle grinder etc. files even, I wear ear defenders. Wear eye protection for any grinding or drilling, lathe work. Any time I work with chemicals, layups or do sanding, Tyvek suit, full vapor mask with fresh filters, gloves and pretty much do all sanding outside even in the winter. I wear ear plugs riding my GSXR every time because of the wind noise. I still have really acute hearing (unlike many of my friends now) and excellent health, no allergies even though I have worked as a fabricator for many years and been around noisy machinery and race cars my whole life.

You can't reverse a lot of this damage and protection is cheap and easy to use. Once you get used to it, you don't feel right without it and it is really little trouble. Life is short enough without having problems related to chemical or noise exposure. Ever check out the price of hearing aids these days?
 
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