Corian is a hard, synthetic surface that can be used to make kitchen and bathroom countertops. This product, manufactured by the American-based DuPont chemical company, can be used by do-it-yourselfers, as it is relatively easy to cut and shape with commonly available power and hand tools. However, Corian contains hazardous chemicals that are released when it is sawn or drilled. Therefore, precautions must be taken to avoid contact with Corian dust.
Nature of Chemical Hazard
Corian releases methyl methacrylate when it is drilled, sawn or shaped with a router. This chemical irritates the eyes, skin, nose and throat, and it can cause allergic reactions. When inhaled regularly over a period of time, methyl methacrylate may contribute to the development of colorectal cancer. It also can contribute to cardiovascular illness as well as causing chronic nose and respiratory inflammation. This inflammation can reduce lung and breathing capacity.
Individuals with pre-existing lung or skin disease should not come into contact with Corian dust, as they are particularly sensitive to its effects. Healthy individuals should wear safety glasses when sawing, drilling or shaping Corian. They should also protect their mouths, throat and lungs against the irritating effects of the dust by wearing a half-face air-purifying respirator with a type N100 filter. Rubber gloves should always be worn when working with Corian or handling pieces that have recently been cut or shaped. Do not work with Corian in unventilated spaces such as windowless basements.
Symptoms of Exposure
Symptoms of inhalation exposure to Corian dust and vapour include headache, nausea, coughing, shortness of breath and temporary coldness or numbness. It can also cause temporary elevation of blood pressure and abnormal results of kidney function tests. Skin exposure can cause rashes and irritation.
First Aid Treatment
The ill effects of inhaling Corian dust are not lasting unless the dust is inhaled on a regular basis over a long period of time. In the event of dust inhalation, or if exposed to fumes from burning or overheated Corian, leaving the area and going outdoors for fresh air is usually sufficient to counteract the ill effects. If the effects persist, medical attention is required. In cases of skin contact with Corian dust, wash the skin thoroughly with soap and water. Contact a physician in the event of a skin rash. Flush the eyes with water for 15 minutes and call a physician if dust enters the eyes.