REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND THE WORKPLACE
Epoxies and Resins
Working with or exposure to certain epoxies or resins could increase your chances of having fertility problems, miscarriage, stillbirth, or a baby with birth defects. Here, you can learn more about these chemicals and what you can do to reduce your exposure for a healthier pregnancy.
What are epoxies and resins?
- Epoxies and resins are chemicals that can form a hard, strong surface when they cure. They are often used in two-part glues or surface coatings. As epoxies cure, they generally turn into much less toxic polymers.
- These chemicals include styrene, methyl methacrylate, epoxy resins, vinyl chloride, and others.
Why be concerned about exposure?
- Some of the chemicals in this group have been linked with an increased risk for fertility problems, miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects.
- We do not know what levels of these agents are safe for pregnant women.
- Keep in mind that smelling or not smelling a chemical doesn’t mean you are safe or not safe. Harmful levels of chemicals cannot always be smelled, and some much less hazardous chemicals have an odor.
Who is exposed to epoxies and resins?
- Plastic manufacturing workers
- Beauty and nail salon workers (note—the Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of methyl methacrylate in nail salons)
- Healthcare workers, particularly in orthopedics and dental laboratories
- Boat builders
What is not known?
- We don’t know what causes most fertility problems, miscarriages, birth defects, and other reproductive problems. If you work with epoxies and resins and have a miscarriage or a baby with a birth defect or other problem, we often can’t tell if it was caused by exposure to these chemicals or if it was caused by something else.
- We don’t know what levels of exposure to these chemicals are safe. Try to reduce or eliminate your exposure as much as possible.
What can I do to reduce or eliminate exposure?
- If you are pregnant, consider talking to your employers to avoid these duties during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- If avoidance during pregnancy and breastfeeding is not possible:
- Avoid directly mixing resins if at all possible. Ask someone else to mix them for you.
- Increase ventilation as much as possible.
- Find out what resins or epoxies are in use, and wear the right personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Gloves have to be the right materials or they may not protect you.
- If exposure cannot be avoided during pregnancy, respirators can be worn to reduce the amount of certain chemicals that workers breathe in. Charcoal masks or surgical masks will not protect you from these chemicals. To be effective, respirators must be used correctly. Learn more about respirators and pregnancy. Talk to your doctor and your employer if you think you might need to use a respirator.
- If there is any chance of splashing these chemicals into the eyes, eye protection (safety glasses or goggles) should be used.
- If you get these chemicals on skin or clothes, wash the skin or change clothing as soon as possible.
- Make sure that you are not bringing these chemicals home on your work clothing or shoes. Change clothes and shoes before leaving work and wash these clothes separately if your company does not offer a work clothing laundry service. Learn how to avoid take-home exposures.
Where can I get more information?
Learn more about personal protective equipment (PPE).
Read the Current Intelligence Bulletin on Glycidyl Ethers, a common component of epoxy resins.
Read about protecting your skin from contact with epoxy resinspdf iconexternal icon in the construction industry.