Epoxy resin, which is also called polyepoxide resins or synthetic resins, has been used in many daily products such as flooring, paint and varnish, coating material for steel pipes, and a variety of textile materials. The epoxy resin countertops are one of the best-known uses of this interesting synthetic polymer.
It has been considered as one of the safe and non-toxic plastics in the product industry.
Since epoxy resins are used as casting resins in many outdoor and indoor applications as such as paint, piping, and coating materials, it is important to consider their raw materials if it affects both our health and the environment. is epoxy resin bad for the environment?
What are epoxy resins?
There are many types of resins like silicone resin, plastic resins, and synthetic resin. Epoxy resin is a type of synthetic resins polymer that can be derived from the condensation reaction between epichlorohydrin and bisphenol-A.
Both of them are colorless liquids at room temperature, but when combined together during the reaction process, they become a solid polymer that has many applications.
Epoxy resins are generally considered as safe polymers because the raw materials used to make them are resources that are widely available and renewable. However, they still contain harmful ingredients and toxic chemicals.
However, these days, the organic materials used to make epoxy resins are mostly derived from sugar or corn, instead of petroleum. Even though epoxy resins are classified as non-toxic materials by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), they still contain a lot of harmful ingredients and toxic chemicals.
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What is cured epoxy resin?
It is a resin that is cured with the help of a curing agent, which means that epoxy resins can be modified and changed to suit specific applications. In addition, a variety of additives can be added to epoxy resin before it is cured to produce the desired effect. Basically, it is a liquid resin that was mixed with a curing agent to make a hardening process.
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What is polyurethane resin?
Polyurethane resin is a kind of synthetic resin that is made from the reaction of polymer compounds which are polyols and diisocyanate.
Polyols are simple compounds derived from organic chemicals such as ethylene glycol, glycerol, and propylene glycol. However, the most common polyols used to make epoxy resins are ethylene oxide and propylene oxide.
Polyurethane resin or synthetic resin is the most commonly used polymer to make hard sealants, adhesives, glues, foams, coatings, and fillers. The most common polyurethane resins are urea-formaldehyde, amine hardeners, and methylene diphenyl diisocyanate.
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Main uses of epoxy resin
- It is a water-resistant adhesive that is usually used in construction projects.
- It can be used to repair cracks in concrete, outdoor floors, resin flooring, etc.
- It is also used to protect steel bolts from corrosion and other external factors, so it is usually applied to the surface of a building.
- It can be used to create non-slip floors, which is often applied in the bathroom, bar, kitchen, and staircase.
- It is a water-resistant coating that can be used to cover the surfaces of boats and ships.
- It is a solid polymer that is easy to handle, and it can be used to create the surface of some decorative products such as countertops and tabletops.
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What is resin art?
Resin art is usually created using epoxy resins. The resin artworks can be made by different methods, but the most common one is the sand casting method. However, some resin art artists also use vacuum-forming machines to make resin artworks.
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Is epoxy resin toxic to humans?
Epoxy resin is a mixture of organic and inorganic components, most of which are toxic to the human body. It is also known as petroleum resin because it is derived from petroleum products.
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Is epoxy resin toxic to animals?
Epoxy resin is toxic to most animals, especially aquatic ones. This is because it has high water solubility, along with the fact that it is not easily biodegradable.
The solubility of epoxy resin in water can cause environmental problems because it will mix with the water and slowly accumulate in oceans, rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes. It will eventually end up in marine life, which can cause serious diseases and death.
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Is epoxy resin flammable?
Epoxy resin is not easily flammable, but it can still catch fire when exposed to extreme heat. However, the solvents used in epoxy resin are much more flammable than the epoxy resins themselves.
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Is epoxy resin safe?
Epoxy resins have been found to be safer than other types of synthetic resins polymers, but it is still not completely safe for humans. It can still cause health problems if it is exposed or consumed in large amounts.
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Is epoxy resin biodegradable?
No, it is not. When it goes to landfills, it is inert and unable to decompose. As time goes on, the epoxy resin will rise to the surface of the landfill because it is lighter than the soil. It is also difficult for animals to digest it because of its strong chemical structure.
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How does epoxy resin affect the environment?
Since epoxy resins are useful in many applications, their raw materials must be carefully considered to avoid environmental pollution.
Epoxy resin is derived from petroleum products, so it does not naturally occur in the environment. However, epoxy resins can still affect the environment because they are made from heavy crude oil.
When the factory that produces epoxy resins is located near a river or stream, it will contaminate the water and affect aquatic life forms.
Although most epoxy resins are derived from renewable resources or petroleum products that are considered safe for human health, they still contain harmful ingredients that affect the environment when used.
For example, when epoxy resin is applied to the flooring in a small one-bedroom apartment, the residues may be washed with rain. The toxic chemicals can accumulate in nearby rivers and water sources.
It is noteworthy that there are no specific studies on whether all epoxy resins become part of the biosphere or not after they are discarded.
Epoxy resin contains harmful ingredients such as dioxin, which has been linked to cancer. Therefore, it is advised that you choose environmentally friendly epoxy resin for your flooring and countertop materials.
In addition, the cheap epoxy resin contains a small number of asbestos fibers, which can cause lung cancer when inhaled. These toxic chemicals may be released into the air and affect the health of those living around the construction site.
The good thing is that many manufacturers now make natural resin using natural products and mostly recycled materials such as corn oil and sugar instead of toxic ingredients.
As a result, the toxicity of the resin is greatly reduced. However, you should always check whether your flooring contains harmful ingredients or not to avoid health problems in the future.
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What are the common health side effects of epoxy resin
- It may cause damage to the respiratory system due to its strong chemical components.
- In addition, it can irritate your eyes and skin, so it is recommended to use a mask and gloves when working with the resin.
- If you have sensitive skin, it will cause rashes or allergic reactions.
- Alcohol-based resin, also known as an epoxy hardener, can increase the risk of cancer when you are exposed to it for a long time.
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How to remove epoxy resin
It is recommended that you use a small amount of citrus oil or lemon juice when you mix the resin to avoid skin irritation and contamination in your workplace.
If you accidentally get epoxy resin on your skin, you should wash it with soap and water. If the resin gets into your eyes, you should flush it with running water for a while to avoid damage to the cornea.
In addition, you can use a small amount of toothpaste to remove epoxy resin from your skin and hands. Rub the toothbrush into the resin for a while then rinse it with cold water.
It is recommended to use protective clothing. And avoid using or putting cheap epoxy resin.
When it comes to removing epoxy resin from your clothes, you should mix baking soda with the same amount of water and rub them into the resin.
Next, you should wash the clothes in warm water with your regular detergent to remove the resin.
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Expoxy resin can be bad for the environment depending on how it is being used, manufactured, and the type of resin.
Sometimes resin can be made from plant-based or petroleum-based feedstocks, with the specific type of resin depending on the source material but on the other hand, sometimes it can be harmful chemicals.
Epoxy resin is usually derived from petroleum products, which are toxic to the environment. If hazardous waste gets into rivers or streams, it will be harmful to the environment.
There are pros and cons to each type of resin, but they both have an environmental impact in manufacturing epoxy resins. The polymerization process requires a catalytic agent which may generate hazardous volatile organic compounds during manufacture.
This increases the energy required to run facilities, which release harmful gasses that increases carbon dioxide pollution – while also increasing our dependence on fossil fuels sources.
In conclusion, the process of manufacturing resin should be environmentally friendly and use sustainable alternatives such as non-hazardous raw materials instead of using harmful chemicals.
And the use and disposal of resin properly are vital in avoiding environmental impact.