What are the dangers of epoxy paint fumes?

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What are the dangers of epoxy paint fumes?
People often cover their garage floors with epoxy paint. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Epoxy paint is typically used to cover concrete floors because of its ability to keep the concrete from becoming damaged due to water absorption over time. The finished product is a smooth, glossy and durable surface that is easy to clean. Epoxy paint contains toxic chemicals known as isocyanates, that help to create this effect. These isocyanate chemicals also create fumes that are dangerous when inhaled.

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The Process

From the moment epoxy paint is introduced to air, it begins to dry. The drying occurs as the liquid part of the paint evaporates, releasing toxic fumes into the air as it becomes gas. The odour of the paint persists until evaporation is complete and the paint is fully dried, which can take as long as one to two weeks.

The Dangers

Extreme caution should always be exercised when dealing with epoxy paint. If the fumes of the epoxy paint are inhaled, even for a short amount of time, they can become quite dangerous to any living creature. Signs of epoxy fume poisoning are drowsiness, nausea and vomiting. Prolonged exposure can cause a person to suffer from asthma and/or inflammation within the lungs, and can even lead to death. Hire a professional painting company to apply the paint for you, if at all possible.


Work in a well-ventilated area while applying the paint. If painting a garage floor, the garage door should be open and a fan should be used to push the fumes out of the room. Wear a breathing mask or, better yet, a respirator while applying the paint. Remove yourself from the painting area every hour to get some fresh air. A 15-minute break is ideal. Wear protective clothing and eye goggles to avoid physical paint contact, which can cause other problems like skin irritation.

Speeding The Process

When the paint is dry, the possibility of breathing in the deadly fumes is over. Therefore, the paint should be dried as quickly as possible to decrease the exposure time. Painting during cooler months when humidity is low also helps the air take in the moisture of the paint and dry it faster. Use a few fans to help circulate the air and dry the paint faster.

In Case of Emergency

If you should experience any symptoms associated with epoxy paint fumes, remove yourself from the area and seek medical attention immediately.

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