Author Topic: Is this epoxy sensitivity?  (Read 78788 times)

Offline dbohara

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Is this epoxy sensitivity?
« on: March 18, 2013, 02:06:33 PM »
I've never been allergic to anything but poison ivy.  I built my 20' Tolman, a dinghy, and two small sailboats and done a lot of other work with epoxy with no consequences.
However, recently, I have been repairing my 20 Standard replacing the rotten transom and this requires a little sanding.
I developed a serious rash over my upper chest, arms and neck that felt like Poison ivy.  I blamed my cat for going into ivy and me petting him.  Wasn't the cat and the rash got worse.  One doc said it was shingles but it lasted waaaaaaay too long.  Skin doc said I was allergic to somethign and gave me TWO cortisone shots that barely touched it and it got even worse.
Finally, skin doc said it is "Grovers Disease" which is caused by God knows what but is exacerbated by sweating (did I mention I live in FLorida, sweating is just part of life.)  Huge dose of Prednisone and it almost went away but is now coming back.
Epoxy sensitivity?  Hmmmmmmmmm............Does one develop such after so many years of working with it?

The boat is up high, I sand and stuff falls on me, gets in my hair, down my shirt, etc.   Gloves?  No way.  Long sleeves?  This is N. Florida where the temps are high with even higher humidity.

Offline brook

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Re: Is this epoxy sensitivity?
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2013, 03:19:07 PM »
I too recently developed what I am pretty sure is an epoxy sensitivty.by all accounts mine is fairly minor, for now. 2 workingsessions in a row I got a poison ivy like rash on my eyelids and to a lesser degree on my hands. After I put 2 and 2 togather, I have been very vigilant about exposure. Full face mask respirator, tyvek suits, and taping the gloves to the suit. No new problems as of yet. Being winter in minnesota makes this all much easier. I was able to control the symtoms with over the counter benidryl, so I don't think I am quite as sensitized as it sounds like you may be. I am working out an active ventilation system as I am working on the inside of the cuddy. I may be over doing it, but I alredy had one close call while building my boat. Good luck with all of this!

Offline tananaBrian

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Re: Is this epoxy sensitivity?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2013, 05:38:06 PM »
I have not heard of anyone being sensitized by fully cured epoxy, although I do know of one guy who after becoming sensitized with fresh epoxy, was also sensitive to the stuff after it was cured ...hot days in the cuddy would set off his rash.  So, I suppose it's possible.  I think that with you in Florida, sanding epoxy that may not be entirely cured (it takes weeks to cure completely) combined with sweating probably migrated some actively curing epoxy into the pores of your skin ...sort of a worst case situation I suppose.  I would definitely try the Tyvek suits, gloves, respirator stuff (and have fans blowing that move sanding dust away from you, not towards you) and see how the rash recovers.  While it might not be fun, right now might be a great time to find out if you're sensitive or not so you know to take precautions in the future.

Brian

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Offline dbohara

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Re: Is this epoxy sensitivity?
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2013, 09:14:53 AM »
Finally, this got so bad that I had multiple steroid injections as my skin began peeling and my arms and neck are covered with sores.  Then doses of prednisone gets it under control temporarily.  Seriously expensive anti-inflammation creams help a tiny bit but are too greasy for me to use much.
I was sort of unbelieving in an epoxy sensitivity until last night after a bout of sanding the itching began badly even though I am in the middle of a prednisone regimen.  Still am sorta unbelieving thinking it is mostly an issue of sanding dust drying the skin and the associated symptom of my hands and feet peeling like mad.
Crazilly enough, the skin doc thought I had managed to achieve caffeine poisoning cuz I told him I sweat a lot.  He asked me what I drink and I told him 'Coffee" and he asked "how many cups" and I told him, "Wrong question, it should be ""how many pots a day"" followed by Starbucks and chewing on French roasted coffee beans (dang I love coffee).  OK, I cut back to 3 cups a day and this relieves the sweating but the rash is worse.

Offline dbohara

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Re: Is this epoxy sensitivity?
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2013, 09:22:12 AM »
Well, this sorta answers some questions:
http://www.westsystem.com/ss/health-effects-from-overexposure-to-epoxy/
I also work with tiny amount so epoxy at work where gloves are not an easy option due to the fragile parts.
OK, epoxy sensitivity, so, how do I build a Jumbo now?  If'n I put on a Tyvek suit and taped up the arms and wore a respirator, I'd be dead in 5 minutes from heat stroke here.

Offline tananaBrian

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Re: Is this epoxy sensitivity?
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2013, 02:26:55 PM »
Well ...If all you say is true and you cannot wear safety equipment in your environment, then it sounds like your project is ...well, doomed.  BUT, it may not be.  You have not proven to yourself that epoxy is the problem yet, so don't give up.  If I were you, I'd get any and all epoxy into a separate place on your property where you never need to go, and this includes the boats and anything made with or from epoxy.  Then I'd wait a few months and see if your issues go away (they may not even be allergies or some type of sensitization).  If, or when, your issues go away ...THEN and only then you are ready to see if epoxy is your issue.  Since when your system is responding to other allergens, the sensitivity to allergens in general increases, I would also remove all other allergens from your life for now: fragrances, artificial colors, pesticides on non-organic produce (only eat organic fruits/veggies for awhile), hormones (only eat organic meats or wild fish/game for awhile), and any and all other chemicals that you can find in your daily regimen.  Once things are cleared up, then purposely expose yourself to some freshly mixed epoxy, maybe even put a dab on your arm for a minute (and then clean it off by rubbing wood flour on it until all stickiness is gone and follow by washing with a mild detergent and lukewarm water - not hot water - it opens up pores in your skin).  IF you get a reaction from epoxy at that time, THEN you can say with confidence that you are sensitized to it.  Unfortunately, troubleshooting allergies is a tough row to hoe.  I went through the process several years ago and found out that I'm sensitive to certain red dyes and some fragrances ...now I use all hypo-allergenic products and eat mostly organic foods (to avoid pesticides, herbicides etc).  No more allergies for me ...even if I do get exposed to the 'bad things' now and then.  My doctor said, "When your allergen bucket is nearly full, it doesn't take much to cause it to overflow - keep that bucket empty and you'll be more resilient to all allergies".  Heck, you may find that after reducing or eliminating other allergens, that you may no longer be sensitive to epoxy ...assuming you are (good chance you are...).  BTW, it takes 2 or 3 months to clear all the allergen gunk out of your system, or at least it did for me...

Brian

The Great Alaskan - Professional performance - Easy to build! - https://www.glacierboats.com  ><((((º> ¸.·´¯`·.¸¸><((((º> ¸.·´¯`·.¸¸><((((º> ¸.·´¯`·.¸¸><((((º>

Offline dbohara

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Re: Is this epoxy sensitivity?
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2013, 07:33:05 PM »
Tanana:

Theoretically, it may be possible to remove most potential new allergens from my life and if I cannot quickly decide if it is epoxy or not I will try to do so.  This time of the year is the whole reason for living in this environment where the density of living stuff in the air is incalculable because Spring is insane with flower smells and pollen of all types covers stuff an inch deep drifts.  So removal of natural allergens is prob not feasible.
HOWEVER, last night before sanding, I decided, "OK, it isnt hot yet so long sleeves, face mask, long pants, and immediate shower afterwards".  Amazing, I felt great after getting out of the dusty clothes and the shower.   Hmmmmmmmmm..........

Offline akfishdude

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Re: Is this epoxy sensitivity?
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2013, 08:17:21 AM »

Epoxy sensitivity on me is EXACTLY like a poison ivy reaction. It will go away after a week or so if you can keep from itching it. Here is what my face looked like when I decided to scrape some partially cured edges without a full face mask and short sleeves; my arms looked about the same. I am much more cautious now with protective clothing, and keep the garage door partially open when I'm working on epoxy.

Offline dinghyman

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Re: Is this epoxy sensitivity?
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2013, 04:17:33 PM »
This won't help you when sanding epoxy on a boat already built but you might try switching brands of epoxy. I used West System for many years and after one project started getting rashes. Switched to Progressive Basic No-Blush and now I'm fine.

http://www.epoxyproducts.com/noblush.html

;-) Paul
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Offline David Nolan

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Re: Is this epoxy sensitivity?
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2013, 05:58:54 PM »
What epoxy did you use?   Wow

Offline dbohara

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Re: Is this epoxy sensitivity?
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2013, 08:51:08 PM »
Conclusive testing by an allergist show my rash is NOT an epoxy allergy.  I am not allergic to epoxy at all,  I am allergic to my work!  Specifically, I have a cobalt/nickel allergy brought on by the nickel electroplating I do for work.  I spend my work time polishing nickel optics, electroplating nickel optics, lapping them to size and numerous other steps that produce microscopic particles of nickel with Cobalt in it.  There is nothing I can do to reduce exposure as the work requires a lot of fine manipulation of these things requiring an acute sense of touch.  So, what to do?
Options:

1.  Decide that I should go on disability.
2.  Find another line of work.
3.  Rinse myself several times a day while at work
4.  Get someone else to do the work

On the plus side, I can still build boats.

Offline Paul_A

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Re: Is this epoxy sensitivity?
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2013, 12:40:57 AM »
I am in the same boat with high heat and humidity and lots of sanding to do.

After the first couple of sanding sessions left me itching like crazy I did some research and found that liberal applications of baby powder on any exposed skin does the trick. Apparently it fills the pores in your skin so the glass cannot lodge in there.

I got a couple crazy looking rashes prior to using the baby powder and none since. As cold a shower as you can stand after sanding helps too.

Good luck with the nickle allergy, that's a tough one.

Offline dbohara

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Re: Is this epoxy sensitivity?
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2013, 01:11:38 PM »
It is now official, I am allergic to Bisphenol_A that is in most epoxy resins.  Did extensive testing of cured and uncured epoxy materials along with lots of other stuff and it seems to be the epoxy.  Almost any exposure to the resin can cause the reaction now and have been advised to get other people at work to do any work with epoxy and forget boatbuilding.  Have been advised to get rid of any clothing that may contain uncured resins on them (my entire wardrobe).

Offline scrinch

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Re: Is this epoxy sensitivity?
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2013, 02:20:05 AM »
Sorry to hear that your epoxy boatbuilding days are over. But it's good to know for sure what is causing your problem so that you can avoid it. Maybe you should start welding aluminum boats!