If you've ever used resin, or are thinking of using it in the future, this is information you can't live without.Here it is, the honest truth:
most epoxy resins on the market are really bad for you.
- Do you actually know if the epoxy resin you’re using can cause cancer?
- Reproductive harm or respiratory distress?
- Do you know if it’s corrosive or not?
- How can you tell which resins are safe and which are dangerous?
- And just how dangerous are they?
The Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is where you'll find the important information you need in order to stay safe.
ArtResin co-founder Rebecca Zak is here to teach you how to be a smart resin consumer. She is going to show you how to interpret a safety data sheet, what to look for, and how to spot the red flags.
This information could literally save your life.
What is an SDS and what is its purpose?
An SDS (formerly known as an MSDS) exists to educate people and to keep them safe. It is an internationally standardized document that every chemical must have to make consumers aware of what the product is all about, how it performs, and what risks might be associated with its use.
Who is responsible for the SDS?
The responsibility for the SDS is on the business that manufactures, distributes or sells the chemical. The business must provide accurate information based on federal agency OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) regulations. The SDS must be revised if there are changes to the product formula, there is new data (such as test results) to report, or when OSHA regulations are updated.
Where can I find the SDS?
The SDS must, by law, be made readily available to both employees and consumers. Many companies have made their SDS available for download on their website, but if you are unable to find the SDS online, you can request it from the company and they are obligated to provide it to you.
You can find ArtResin's SDS on our website.
What's in an SDS?
An SDS outlines important information such as personal protective measures, potential hazards, first aid procedures, the product's ingredients and chemical properties, as well as safe storage, handling, transport and disposal considerations.
The SDS is templated into 16 standardized sections as per OSHA, so that the safety information is presented in the same way for every product. To be compliant with OSHA, the resin and hardener should have their own, separate Safety Data Sheet.
Using ArtResin's Resin SDS as an example, let's walk through, section by section, to highlight the information you need to be aware of.
Section 1. Identification
This section identifies the chemical the SDS is for, the name that the product is commonly known by, and what its recommended use is. Section 1 must also list the name and contact information of the manufacturer, importer or distributor, including an emergency phone number.
Section 2. Hazards Identification
It's important to note that every epoxy resin is classified as an irritant. This means that if it comes into contact with your skin, it can cause irritation, which is why you need to wear gloves when working with resin.
Section 2 is where you’ll find language and pictograms to identify potential health risks associated with the use of the product. This section is so important, they put it right after the product’s name and manufacturer. Section 2 includes the chemical's hazard classification, signal word, hazard and precautionary statements and pictograms.
Any product that is classified as an irritant carries the signal word “Warning” and must show a pictogram of an exclamation in a red diamond.
There are hazard and precautionary statements to accompany these classifications and the business is responsible for recording all the applicable statements from a huge list of possibilities. If they don't, their liability is on the line.
For ArtResin, we have precautionary statements like “Keep out of reach of children”, “Wear protective gloves”, “If skin irritation/rash occurs, get medical attention” etc. These are all things that make sense with the irritant classification.
However, if you look at the SDSs of other resins, you will frequently see pictograms like a skull and cross bone to indicate the product can cause death or poisoning, and/or pictograms to indicate the product causes skin burns and corrosion, poses a health hazard, is flammable, and is harmful to the environment.
Here is what's most concerning: although other resin companies might have these warning pictograms in their SDS, they often do not appear on the product label as required. In other words, these resins are mislabelled. Doing so hides the toxicity of the product and does not allow you, the consumer, to make an informed choice.
Along with these scary pictograms, you will also see hazard statements such as: "Causes serious eye damage"; "Suspected of damaging fertility or the unborn child"; "Very toxic" etc. In addition, the signal word for these terrible resins has been escalated from WARNING to DANGER. ArtResin does not have hazard statements like this because it is NON-HAZARDOUS and we have certification to back that up.
In no uncertain terms, the SDS lets you know what you’re dealing with - and why you may want to choose something that doesn’t make you fearful for your safety and wellbeing.
Down below are ArtResin's National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS®) ratings. These diamond-shaped pictograms follow a chemical rating system on a scale of 0 to 4 to show at-a-glance how flammable and hazardous the product is, respectively.
A rating of 0 indicates a low hazard, whereas a 4 would indicate high hazard. The diamonds are color-coded for quick reference:
- blue for health hazard
- red for flammability
- yellow for chemical reactivity (NFPA) or physical hazard (HMIS®)
- white for another special hazard (NFPA) or personal protection (HMIS®)
Section 3. Composition/Information On Ingredients
This section identifies the ingredients in the product, including their chemical name, common name and their CAS number. A CAS (or, “Chemical Abstracts Service”) number is assigned to chemicals for easy identification. You’ll see ours below:
Section 4. First Aid Measures
Section 4 describes what first aid care is necessary for an individual who has ingested or inhaled the product or who has come into direct contact with it through their eyes or skin. It also indicates what symptoms or effects may occur as a result of exposure.
Section 5. Fire Fighting Measures
Section 6. Accidental Release Measures
Section 7. Handling And Storage
Section 8. Exposure Controls
This lets you know you need a pair of disposable gloves (as is the case with ArtResin) or if you're looking at suiting up in a hazmat suit, a full-on gas mask and goggles. You may be surprised that the latter is the norm!
Section 9. Physical And Chemical Properties
Section 10. Stability And Reactivity.
Section 11. Toxicological Information
Section 12. Ecological Information
Section 12 outlines the ecological impact this product might have if it was released into the environment.
Section 13. Disposal Considerations
Section 14. Transport Information
This section provides transport information, including the transport classification, whether the product is hazardous and, if so, what precautions need to be taken to ship it safely.
Section 15. Regulatory Information
This section identifies compliance with health and safety regulations not already covered in the previous sections, such as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and Proposition 65 regulations for the state of California.
Section 16. Other Information
What part of the SDS should I look out for?
To stay safe under day-to-day, normal use, the sections you really want to focus on are Sections 2, 8 and 11; the Hazards, PPE, and Toxicity, respectively. These sections spell out in no uncertain terms what the chemical is capable of as far as harming you, and what precautions you need to take given its chemical composition.
In other words, if a resin is dangerous to breathe in without an industrial grade respirator, if it will burn your skin, poison you or seriously compromise your health, you have a right to know so you can THROW. IT. OUT.
Why aren't all epoxy resins the same?
At this point, you're probably wondering what makes one resin so different from another? Why do some resins have the capacity to kill you or destroy your health, while others are totally safe to use?
The real differentiator in resins is FILLER.
The resins that have the potential to cause harm all have filler in them to drive down the cost, but because filler is almost always a solvent, that also makes the product toxic. These solvent fillers do not bond in the chemical reaction of the epoxy resin and because they have nowhere to go, they are released into the air as noxious fumes and VOCs.
There are so many fillers that can leach out over time which could never be used for food contact or skin contact. Furthermore, any resins with filler (which, unfortunately, is almost every resin on the market) will have respiratory warnings in sections 2 and 8. This means that unless you’re suiting up in a respirator, you’re doing damage to your body. Sometimes irreversible damage.
Is ArtResin safe?
ArtResin contains no fillers and no solvents that can cause unwanted toxic effects. Everything in the ArtResin formula bonds together chemically, and that means NO VOCs and no fumes that can cause respiratory distress.
To back that up, we have certifications to show that we passed:
- Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry tests showing ArtResin does not leach any chemicals when cured, including nonyl phenol.
13 different migration and food safety tests (compliant with regulations from the United States, Canada, Europe, Great Britain and Australia) determining that ArtResin is fully inert when cured.
- Safety Standard ASTM D-4236 Toxicological Risk Assessments to confirm that ArtResin's product claims and usage instructions are safe and accurate, and that the product is correctly labelled.
In other words, if any component of the ArtResin formula contained dangerous fillers, solvents or hazardous chemicals that could harm you when used as directed, or the product released VOCs, fumes or other hazardous compounds that could leach out after curing, we could not have passed these tests.
A Toxicological Risk Assessment takes into account every aspect or state of the material throughout its process, including resin on its own in liquid form, hardener on its own in liquid form, resin + hardener combined in liquid form, while being torched and while curing. Below you can see a letter from a board certified toxicologist who performed a Risk Assessment test on ArtResin and determined that:
- ArtResin meets safety standard ASTM D-4236
- ArtResin is non-hazardous under normal conditions of use.
- Gloves are the only personal protective equipment required when using ArtResin, to prevent the product from coming into contact with the user's skin.
Restech Environmental Products LLC is a parent company to ResinVentures, who manufacture and distribute ArtResin. Read more about ResinVentures and ArtResin's story in our blog Is ArtResin A Proprietary Formula? Or Is ArtResin A Re-seller?
Is Benzyl Alcohol safe?
Many resin manufacturers include the ingredient Benzyl Alcohol in their resin formulations. Here are a few things to be aware of:
- Benzyl Alcohol (CAS 100-51-6) is a semi-volatile solvent that is often added to epoxy resin as a diluent to reduce viscosity and improve flow.
Benzyl alcohol is non-reactive meaning it does not form a chemical bond with other ingredients in the resin and will leach out after the resin cures.
The FDA has stringent limits on the amount of Benzyl Alcohol allowed in epoxy resin coatings intended for food contact, and furthermore, limits the use of coatings containing Benzyl Alcohol to industrial purposes: In Title 21 of the FDA's Code of Federal Regulations under section 175.300 (viii) (b) it states that "Benzyl alcohol (CAS Reg. No. 100-51-6), for use only in coatings at a level not to exceed 4 percent by weight of the resin when such coatings are intended for repeated use in contact with foods ..." and that "Use shall be limited to coatings for tanks of capacity greater than 530,000 gallons."
- There are resins on the market containing more than twice the FDA's approved amount of 4% Benzyl Alcohol by weight, yet claim they are food safe for home use.
ArtResin does not contain Benzyl Alcohol, or any other non-reactive diluents in our formula. If you examine an SDS and see that the resin or hardener you're using contains Benzyl Alcohol (CAS 100-51-6) under Section 3, BEWARE. It is especially a cause for concern if the label, website or marketing claims that the product is food safe, or free of solvents, non-reactive diluents and VOCs.
Do I need to use a respirator while using ArtResin?
For many resin brands on the market, wearing a respirator is a requirement. ArtResin, however, is a clean system, meaning you do not need to use a respirator when using ArtResin as directed and in a well-ventilated area.
It's important to note that the recommendation to wear a respirator while using ArtResin in a non-ventilated space is intended as an extra precaution, not as a requirement. Standard practice in the chemical industry is to over label and over warn for safety.
Of course, out of an abundance of caution, the choice is always yours to wear a respirator. We always recommend that the user takes whatever precaution they wish to take in order to have the most comfortable experience.
Is ArtResin's smell harmful?
ArtResin has a very low odor, but it's important to note that what you are smelling is simply an odor and not fumes. In fact, ArtResin produces no fumes or VOCs so any scent you may detect is not an indication of potential danger. However, when it comes to odor, we all have different levels of tolerance. Should you find the odor bothersome when using ArtResin, wear a respirator to make your experience more comfortable. For more information, see our blog What's That Smell? Explaining Epoxy Resin's Odor.
What if I have an allergic reaction to ArtResin?
It’s possible to be allergic (or to become allergic) to an ingredient that is safe for the rest of the population. This is also true for epoxy resin.
Approximately 2% of epoxy resin users will demonstrate allergic symptoms to the basic chemical components of epoxy resin. This means that an epoxy allergy is not specific to a particular brand: If you're allergic to one epoxy resin, you will be allergic to all epoxy resins. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell whether someone will have an epoxy allergy until symptoms present themselves. Allergic symptom(s) typically present as temporary skin inflammation and/or swelling upon exposure.
⚠️ PLEASE NOTE: In the event of these symptoms, regardless of when reactions occur or their severity, allergy sufferers should discontinue use of ALL epoxy resins indefinitely in order to protect themselves.
It's also important to note that an allergic reaction is not the same as the serious health complications, including chronic respiratory issues, that may result from exposure to epoxy that contains VOCs/fumes, solvents or non-reactive diluents. For more information on epoxy resin allergies, please see our blog Can You Be Allergic To Epoxy Resin?
Why is ArtResin so expensive?
To be honest, it costs a LOT to produce a product like ArtResin, but if you’re uncompromising in quality and safety, then things cost more.
The bottom line is that the resin you're using shouldn't hurt you. Dave and Rebecca developed the ArtResin formula with the help of a chemist after looking diligently for a brand of epoxy resin that wouldn’t give them headaches, and that they could use with kids and pets around at home. It didn’t exist, and they knew that other artists would also be interested in a safe resin option. After all, who doesn't want to stay safe?
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. You can have Triple A Wagyu steak for dinner, or you can have cat food. One of these can make you very sick. And if there is anything we’ve learned recently, being sick sucks.
So while we certainly think ArtResin is the best and we'd love to convince you of that too, what we really want is for you to be aware of the resin you're purchasing and what you're dealing with when you use it. To keep yourself safe, we urge you to:
- Ask for the SDS of every resin you’re working with.
- Look for the pictograms.
- Read the hazard statements.
- Put on the PPE accordingly.
We hope you’ve found this information insightful. Feel free to post any questions or comments down below and we will get back to you! Please share this information with your fellow artists and help to keep people safe.
Do you want to learn more about epoxy resin and safety? Read our guides below:
ArtResin: Made For Artists, By Artists.