An epoxy resin is a polymer used as in the manufacture of "woven" fibreglass to bind the glass filaments. Fibreglass coated with epoxy resin is primarily used to build swimming pools and boats. Uncured epoxy resin is a known skin irritant, and specific health and safety regulations should be observed in workplaces using any fibreglass products.
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Epoxy resins are known to cause contact dermatitis and burns in some people. A study of 130 workers using fibreglass coated with uncured epoxy resin by the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Ontario found that eight of the workers developed dermatitis on their hands and forearms, and some developed irritation on the head and neck. The study also showed that once fibreglass epoxy resin is heat-treated, it no longer causes dermatitis.
In 2001, following a number of occupational health studies and the more widespread use of "biosoluble" fibreglass, the International Agency for Cancer Research reported that it no longer considered fibreglass, either with or without epoxy resin, to be carcinogenic to humans.
Safety and Prevention
Avoid working with fibreglass coated with epoxy resin that has not been heat-treated. People working with any form of fibreglass should wear protective clothing that is washed regularly. Gloves are necessary to protect the hands, plus goggles and a mask are recommended to protect the eyes and to prevent inhalation of small particles. Also, working with fibreglass in confined spaces is not advised.
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