Perhaps you want to redo your garage, or make a new table? Maybe you’re looking to get a fancy charcuterie board? Or maybe you just got a gorgeous new necklace or coasters from Etsy. Either way, you are now curious as to whether or not that epoxy is safe for your children or pets. After a lot of research, I will dive into this question and help you make an informed decision.
Is epoxy resin safe for children and pets? After a full cure, most epoxy resins are usually safe and non-toxic for all home use. Many epoxy resins are even made to be able to be used on tables and food-touching surfaces. Despite this, there are still safety concerns with epoxy resin including: allergies (dermatitis), fumes, and irritation or burns.
With that in mind, here are the common issues and characteristics of working with epoxy resin so you can make an informed decision before bringing it around people and pets.
What is Epoxy Resin?
Before diving into the answer of harmful effects of Epoxy to look into, I want to give a general overview first. When you purchase epoxy resin, it comes in two major parts: the base resin and the curing agent.
What is epoxy resin made from? The base epoxy resin (for most common types) is bisphenol A (aka BPA), which on its own has little-to-no uses for the average person. Other types of base resins are novolac, aliphatic, halogenated, and glycidylamine. The curing agent will most commonly be amines, however it can be made of homopolymerisation, anhydrides, phenols, and thiols.
Just by reading the names of the components of common epoxy resins you can tell that they are not commonly used products, and should be researched before coming into too much contact with them. Below is a list of common issues with these.
The most common issue with epoxy resin work is going to come from dermatitis. Because there are so many types of epoxy and they can do different things when mixed, the exact cause may be tricky to diagnose. If you are having an allergic reaction, make sure to remove yourself from the situation, clean the affected area, and reach out to your health professional if it is severe.
Thankfully, even those who are allergic to epoxy will almost never be allergic to it after it is fully cured. Unless you already know whether your child or pet is allergic, the best idea is to avoid having any uncured epoxy resin where they can get into it. If you want to be extra safe, children can undergo a patch test to see if they are allergic. If a child or pet has high sensitivity, there is a chance you can end up with reaction to cured epoxy and it is best to avoid it in your home.
Please note: while it is most common for someone to have only a single allergy to any type of epoxy, it has been known to have cause multiple, which could lead to more than just skin irritation including high fevers anc vomiting. If you don’t know that you aren’t allergic, make sure to get checked ahead of time, and use substantial protection from the epoxy while working with it.
Epoxy resins remain active until fully cured, which is one reason it is important to make sure they are fully cured before working on them.
Epoxy resin vapors are considered adhesive vapors, which can contribute to respiratory issues like asthma. These fumes get worst in hot and unventilated areas. On top of the fumes having negative health effect, when sanding or shaving not-fully-cured epoxy resin, you can inhale those which are still active and can have just as bad (or worse) health effect.
Make sure to always work in a ventilated area, that is not hotter than it needs to be to work with epoxy resin. Whenever possible, work outdoors, and wear a filtration mask to make sure you catch any and all negative fumes early.
It is best not to allow children and pets around for any of this process as it can cause sensitization, which will make their reactions worse in the future (and to the point of a reaction to cured epoxy).
Irritation and/or Chemical Burns
Burns from epoxy resin use are uncommon. The most common case for this is when the hardener (curing agent) is left on your body for more than a short time, it is corrosive by nature and can cause a burn. If left on, or you are sensitive to is, you may have scarring or a more major burn, though it is less common.
When working with the epoxy, be careful especially of the curing agent, and be sure to wash any off immediately that gets on you. Don’t allow children or pets around non-mixed or even non-cured epoxy for best safety.
While cured epoxy resin is safe almost all the time for children and pets, it is best to take as many safety precautions as possible. Getting a patch test where possible will be the first step to making sure you are being safe for your child. Not allowing them to be around the uncured product will be the safest way to make sure they don’t become overly sensitive or experience reactions. Epoxy resin is a wonderful way to make beautiful art and furniture, but take necessary precautions and do what is best for the little ones in your home.
What Epoxy is Safest for Use (food, children, fumes)?
Although most epoxies don’t list their ingredients, we can say with almost certainty that EcoPoxy is the safest epoxy for almost all use cases. The goal of the company is to work towards a 100% bio-based epoxy. They hired in house chemists and have their own lab where they continue to work towards this goal. Currently they are around 70% bio based, and completely non-toxic.