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(From CP32, Page 4, April, 1982)
In CP 31, we asked for reports from anyone who has experienced
a reaction while using the SAF-T-POXY. To date (April 4) we have received 47
letters, all of which have been sent onto Applied Plastics, the manufacturer.
It is still difficult for us to assess the extent of the epoxy sensitization. Less than 3% of the builders sent reports of problems, but we must assume that many of you did not bother to write. Applied Plastics are presently reviewing your reports and investigating the problem. They recently sent in a random SAF-T-POXV sample for testing and it again came back a zero on the SPI scale from zero through 10. For perspective, a common industrial epoxy, 815 has an SPI 6, while the RAE epoxy has an SPI 3. SAF-T-POXY is an SPI 0.
Applied Plastics is developing a very thorough pamphlet covering the use of SAF-T-POXY and precautions to take to avoid the reaction in the first place. They also have suggestions to help you get around the problem. If you are having a slight reaction and are using SAF-T-POXY, be absolutely certain that you do NOT have MEK or acetone or lacquer thinner in the shop at all. Just breathing the fumes of these solvents can render you vulnerable to the epoxy. Getting these solvents on your skin is asking for trouble. If you are using gloves (NEVER use Ply 9 and gloves together, it is either gloves or Ply 9) try using different types of gloves, even allergic reactions to some gloves. Try using thin cotton liners under your gloves, this soaks up sweat, and will show you if you get a break or tear in the glove. While sweating you can sometimes be more vulnerable to allergies. A method that has worked well for some builders is to use only Ply 9, and to stop at least every two hours, wash your hands and arms thoroughly with a good borax soap (Lava) paying particular attention to scrubbing under finger nails and around your cuticles. Dry your hands, reapply Ply 9 and return to the lay-up. Do not exceed the two-hour period. Wash up as often as necessary during a long lay-up. If your sensitivity to breathing the fumes is severe, full-face respirator can provide a solution. (W.W. Grainger # 5X803 is an example).
To summarize, cleanliness is the biggy'. Do not allow epoxy, solvents or any industrial type materials, to come in contact with your skin, not ever. Wash thoroughly, often. Use a good respirator and/or ensure that you have adequate ventilation. If you still have problems you might consider switching to the RAE epoxy system. This may sound silly, (an SPI 0 to an SPI 3), but the fact is you may be reacting to a particular chemical in SAF-T-POXY, that may not be in the RAE system. This has worked for several builders. The allergic reaction healed and they were not bothered again. Beware though, RAE is definitely more toxic. Take all possible precautions when using either of these systems. Finally, if you still have problems, let us know so that we can keep giving the manufacturer this data. Plastics good feed back.