Resin is a fun art medium that gives amazing results, but as with so many types of paint and various art mediums, epoxy resins are used at your own risk. There are numerous types of art mediums that artists should consider personal protection for, that also require adequate ventilation. Artists need to do their research concerning personal safety with any art products. Most epoxy resins developed in recent years specifically for art, are much more user friendly, with no VOC ratings, very little to no odour, and are FDA compliant for incidental food contact. Many resin artists have been enjoying using art type resins for years. Some people never have adverse reactions to resin, but some may react to resin right away, and some can build up an intolerance to resin over time. Some artists use personal protective equipment, some do not. That stated, we care, and at ArtWorks Resin believe there are some things frequent resin users (regardless which resin product you use), should be knowledgeable about & aware of:
Disclaimer: Much of the information below is general in nature, non-specific to any particular brand (unless stated otherwise), and randomly presented. In general the information holds true and will help you to be more knowledgeable about safety when using epoxy resins.
1. FDA rating In the Spring of 2018, FDA changed their wording to include resinous as a material approved for direct food contact, but it is still not approved for liquids or hot foods. Most of the current epoxy resins used in art (including ArtWorks Resin) will also now fall under this category. Even though this approval rating was changed recently, please err on the side of caution regardless of certifications you might see in marketing materials claiming it as safe. The FDA rating is for all resins that fall in this category, and they have not given any one resin company a specific approval over and above the others. ArtWorks Resin has the exact same FDA rating as the others.
2. ArtWorks Resin has no foul odour. Keep in mind that just because a label states no VOC's, no or low odour, that does not translate to non toxic or zero odour. Just because a resin does not smell, does not mean it doesn't have vapours. Carbon monoxide has no odour either. All resins, including those claiming to be non-toxic, are still chemicals, and should be treated as such.
3. As a good precaution, always use Nitrile Gloves when working with any epoxy resin (including those claiming to be non-toxic). Latex, vinyl & rubber gloves are not chemical resistant. Nitrile is a more suited barrier designed to protect against chemicals when working with epoxy resins. If you like to layer your gloves, you can use the regular latex over the nitrile, but make sure you put the nitrile gloves on first. We recommend wearing long sleeves & pants (some resin artists use full tyvek suits), and any areas that are not covered you can use a barrier cream. If you get epoxy resin on your skin, we recommend using baby wipes, soap and water, and mechanics orange soap to remove epoxy. Never use alcohol, acetone or vinegar, as they can break down the epoxy and allow it to penetrate the skin more rapidly.
4. As per all responsible epoxy resin MSDS sheets, use epoxy resins in a well ventilated area. Note: Well ventilated is subject to a variety of interpretations. Again, please use caution and do your research. If using any epoxy resin daily or regularly, consider looking into an air extraction type fan plus good quality air filters designed for use with this type of product in your space. Well ventilated meaning you need an exchange of air, such as, fresh air coming in, and bad air going out.
5. Please do NOT use any epoxy resins close to children or pets, regardless how safe a products marketing material states it is. Highly recommend users read the Safety Data Sheets thoroughly. If manufacturers won't supply this data upon request, err on the side of caution. If you want a child to participate with epoxy resin, even the safest non-toxic claiming types, it is recommended the child should be wearing full personal protective equipment (nitrile gloves, full face organic vapour respirator, and protective clothing so they don't get it on their skin), plus use in well ventilated area only. If these safety PPE measures can't be met, children should not be using epoxy resin (even resins claiming it's safe). It's very easy to build up an intolerance to even the safest claiming resins (we've seen it happen to numerous artists, it's not worth the chance of harming a child's health permanently).
6. Epoxy resin is a great product, and fun to use for amazing results. If your main purpose is to occasionally top coat an item with clear resin (nothing else added), & then do a light torch (or pass a heat source over project) to pop bubbles, it's safe & user friendly. Most manufacturers testing on MSDS sheets, is based on that type of usage, and that's why many of the manufacturers say they are safe too. Basic safety protection (user discretion), should be adequate when used as per manufacturer's guidelines.
7. However, important note here, outside of occasional resin use per item 6 above, many artists often like to add a variety of ingredients (colourants, sparkles, mixed media, etc) to resin, and to push the limits of what resin can do in creating desired effects & techniques (beyond resin manufacturer guidelines & tested ratings), which with ANY & ALL epoxy resin, can create a potentially different toxicity rating then the ones manufacturer has shown on their marketing &/or MSDS information. This hasn't stopped resin artists from using this medium we love, but extra personal protection measures is important & advised to be used in these circumstances. Many resin artists also use the resin almost daily and much more frequently then an occasional user. PLEASE NOTE: SDS (safety data sheets on ALL resins) are based on the product by itself, not when it's mixed with a variety of other added ingredients, or additional heat manipulating (which sometimes accidentally brings resin to smoke point or can light on fire). Added personal protection (as mentioned above) is highly suggested for resin artists in these circumstances.
8. Regardless of brand, any time you bring any epoxy resin (including non VOC/non toxic rated) to a smoke point (past the heat level the manufacturer ratings tested for), it can become toxic (heated plastic), & not ideal to breath in or have that vapour be absorbed through your eyes (eyes can absorb toxin vapours too). This can easily happen by accident when trying to work resin into specific effects, so it's best to use personal protective equipment. Also, due to the possibilities of accidentally over-heating, it's again best not to use near children or pets. More experienced resin users know the tolerance levels of their products, so you may see them in youtube videos not using the PPE by their own choice (this is not recommended).
9. Be aware, if any resin (regardless of non toxic safe claims), touches your skin (especially repeatedly), or if you're pushing it past it's suggested use & breathing it in without protection regularly, it is possible to build up an intolerance to any epoxy resin. The intolerance build up can happen very slowly or not. People can & have experienced chemical reactions & allergy type symptoms to resins claimed as safest and non-toxic. This is why so many resin artists (who use it daily & past suggested use guidelines), highly recommend proper personal protective equipment, (even if you've never reacted before), to prevent the possibility of ever potentially building up an intolerance. Protection is much easier then dealing with completely unexpected reactions or health effects afterwards. This is important for regular users of any resins.
10. If you're not certain that you won't bring resin to smoke point (even by accident), or you want to push for extra effects & techniques, & use added colourants or other materials with your resin, always use a proper fitting respirator rated for Organic Vapours. It should be worn during mixing, & working with the epoxy up until it's cured. These respirators are sold in most places that sell paint, as well as workplace safety equipment stores, and they're also available online. Store your organic vapour cartridges in a sealed container or bag to prolong the life of the cartridges while not in use. A particle mask will not prevent against organic vapours. A full face respirator will also protect your vision, since the eyes can absorb vapours as well. If you only have a half face respirator, then be sure to add safety goggles to protect your eyes from absorbing toxins.
11. If you need to sand your dried resin, use a mask designed for particles (or change the cartridges to ones designed for particles). Do not use your respirator mask with organic vapour cartridges for sanding, since the resin dust created can clog up the organic vapour cartridges. You can switch cartridges on a good quality respirator for various needs & phases of your project. Wet sanding helps reduce dust particles that get into the air.
12. ArtWorks has BPA, not BPB. Pretty much most epoxies (if not all) start out with some form of BPA. Now once mixed with the hardener, the bpa or dgeba, makes a chemical reaction and is no longer bpa. When you test the cured epoxy, there is no traces of bpa, or it's so low, that it is then legal to claim bpa free on msds sheets. It's important to understand that this is a chemical reaction, so the two components we start out with, are not the same as what we end up with.
If using epoxy often, ensure area is ventilated well, use an organic vapour respirator is advised for a few reasons:
A. We have no idea if you are in the small percentage of people that might have an extreme allergic reaction, nor do we know if your body is slowly building up an intolerance in the early stages. Prevention is easier.·
B. When heated high enough, it will release fumes (as will anything, including the colourants often added by artists). Any added ingredients are not covered under the resin MSDS.
This applies to all epoxy resins, since they are all chemicals, even the ones claiming non toxic, and some with plant based additions. They are all still chemicals, and should be treated as such.
13. Epoxy resins are truly a great product, that creates beautiful results, and is easy and fun to use. When searching for how-to's online, you will see many videos with instructors not wearing PPE, so it is a personal decision and choice for people to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) or not. Epoxy resin can be enjoyed frequently and safely, especially if following preventative measures. Wearing PPE is not a big deal, easy to get used to, and used daily by so many workers in a variety of industries. Because there's so many workers in industries that use PPE, there's lots of options to choose from for fit, comfort and design for those that choose to use it. It's worth the extra time.