The Dangers of Polyester Resin???

I’ve been using it for a while now in my garage.

I don’t fully understand all of the dangers of it…

Could some of you guys that have some info on it post it?

Is it ok to inhale the left over fumes in your glassing area after you’ve used it and the resin has cured??

Also if it touches your skin what could potentially happen? It usually just burns me pretty bab and then the burn goes away…

I really want to continue using polyester resin but just don’t want to end up with cancer or something in 10 years from now!!

Could someone tell me the proper way in which to protect yourself from Poly resin??

Thank you, I really appreciate your response.

Ok, so nobody’s touchin’ this right now. Loaded topic lately. Plus, there are lots of fairly recent threads in the archives that contain hazmat references and other information that will answer your questions. Good hunting.

well i’m no doctor…if it burns when it gets on you? thats a chemical burn… that later( 1 week) could turn into a nasty sore…MEK it perhaps the most nasty of all…acetone go into you blood stream instantly…BAD…if there are fumes left over then yea they are BAD too…some peoples may get cancers from this over time… some wont, its like rolling the dice lots of old timers are still alive …i don’t think there are any cases of death by exposure to poly? like anything use your head …this is a rediculous question maybe you have already exposed yourself too much…just make good judgment… stop being american…think for one self and use common sense

not to rip into ya, man…but you REALLY didn’t do your homework. you’re playing with some potentially nasty stuff. ya don’t give a 6-yr-old a gallon of napalm and matchbook, do ya?!

  1. the fumes - WEAR A RESPIRATOR!!! ALL THE TIME!!! if you can smell the fumes, then your respirator isn’t working or you aren’t wearing it. in the case of the former, fix it. in the case of the latter, PUT ON A FREAKING RESPIRATOR!!!

  2. the burn - MEKP is some seriously harsh stuff. search the archives for a thread Austin started awhile back called something to the effect of “MOST TERRIBLE PAIN I’VE EVER FELT IN MY ENTIRE LIFE”. yeah…cover your body. get one of those stylish suits someone was showing off the other day. if you can’t do that, then wear pants, a long sleeve shirt, and ALWAYS rubber gloves…and not the little dinky ones your dentist uses…get those heavy duty gloves that your mom uses when she’s washing dishes so that her hands stay pretty…those are good. also, be certain to keep some eyewash handy at all times…Austin can tell you ALL ABOUT THAT!!!

and most importantly…BE CAREFUL WITH IT!!!

for sanding the stuff , I use respirator, goggles, cap, long sleeved shirt [yep, even in our 100 plus summers!] those long kitchen gloves Soulstice’ mentioned , and …jeans , socks , and shoes.

Ventilation is good , too ! …

…Hicksy’s garage/shed has ‘open windows’ [no glass] , and a sliding garage door. I find the fibreglass dust when grinding fins is the worst . But then , surfboard foam dust can really get to me sometimes too .


I guess the flip side is …just because you "can’t smell epoxy " [?oh, really?!] , doesn’t mean THAT stuff is harmless, as LeeDD , and others, have occassionally pointed out in other threads …

As these other guys have said, it’s not exactly Vitamin D.

Fumes are bad for lungs, bad for eyes, bad for liver ( when they are taken up through your skin) . You can develop allergic reactions ( dermatitis) to 'em.

The resin itself is gummy glop on your skin, and the acetone we have been using for years to get it off is no prize either, that does a number on your liver and has other unpleasant properties.

But I have saved the best for last. Catalyst, MEKP, Methyl Ethyl Ketone Peroxide, four nasties in one. It’ll burn your skin, really mess up your eyes, on more sensitive areas ( like under a fingernail, if you were wondering - no way am i glassing in the buff ) it burns like a sonofabitch. That ‘burn’ is a chemical reaction going on between your skin and the MEKP. It doesn’t feel good cos it isn’t good.

All are flammable, can be explosive if the fumes are concentrated appropriately. Sparks, pilot lights, etc in your work area are bad news.

Oh, and the dust from it ain’t exactly good stuff either.

The way to deal with it right? The smart way is a full face respirator with organic vapor cartridges, reasonably good gloves and a Tyvek suit. With hood. An external blower from another room might be nice too.

After the stuff has hardened? If you can smell it, it’s there. And it’s not good for ya.

Put it this way, I smoke waay too much, but after all the crud I have sucked up with 35 years of boards and boats and boatyards and so forth, tobacco is way down on my list of worries. and for more.

hope that’s of use to you. It’s prolly a bit too late for many of us, including me.


In the years since I was first “exposed” to the surfboard industry (1958), I’ve seen a great many friends die younger than they should. A great many died of various cancers. Take note; Mike Diffenderfer, Ronald Patterson, Bobby Patterson, Raymond Patterson, Billy Caster, to name a quick few that I knew personally. There are numerous others in the Industry. I think as a population surfboard workers probably have an extreamly high incidence of cancer. Certainly they are at a higher risk than the general population. So take precautions.

Thank you all for the info. I always wear a respirator when glassing and gloves, but i usually wear just a t-shirt and shorts. I’m going to get myself all covered up now!!

and give epoxy a try…it’s great stuff

I have, but you just can’t beat sun cure!

It’ll be the day when affordable uv epoxy comes out. I can’t wait for that!

Good thread, all really good advice. I’ve done three boards now with only some protection and have every intention now of getting all the necessary protection for any shaping/glassing that i do in the future.



Aloha! After hearing all about how dangerous epoxy is, after glassing 20+ blanks w/RR, Greg’s glue seems like it’s way safer than P.E.! It seems that it’s easy to get lax in your work habits using P.E., you know how it is. It’s my understanding that when you use catalyzed resin, that the catalyst mixes in, does it’s task, and then rises to the surface when it cures, leaving a film of MEKP after the resin hardens. You can tell if you touch it after. Sanding catalyzed hot coat resin is dangerous, you can smell it in the air when you sand it. U.V. polyester might be a little safer, but what kind of material is the u.v. catalyst? Definitely important to treat the material with caution. No need for more sources of “daim bramage”! ( also liver, etc.) Aloha…RH

Are most of these dangers only for people who are in the industry?

What I mean by this, is if recreational garage shapers who only do about 2-3 boards a year are prone to bad conditions such as liver/lung disorders as well as cancer, assuming they use respirators and are careful.

Is it mostly the people who glass boards for a living who are likely to get all these disorders?

tjd…“just make good judgment,stop being American”…Tuna “tjd…bite me!”

Ahmmmmm - well, that depends.

See, cancer is a funny thing. Not like I am an MD or something, let alone an oncologist, but lets say I have an interest . Between exposure and heredity, lets say I am a bit more likely than most to come down with problems.

What happens is that for some reason, radiation, injury, an odd substance introduced into the system, maybe a virus, a cell goes funny. The DNA in it is changed, maybe, just a little.

Now, if the immune system is fairly strong, it may be that the body sees that funny cell and deals with it. Maybe. Maybe not. Or some other process in the body that we don’t understand yet deals with it…or not.

Lets say it doesn’t. The cell replicates itself. And those two replicate themselves, and so on. Fun with the powers of two. Two squared, two to the third… eventually you have a whole lot of those strange cells. And they are reproducing and reproducing and either taking nutrients and such that you need to do other things or spreading into other tissues ( metastasising) or displacing normal cells and screwing things up. The term ‘insidious’ could have been made for this…

Now, some of us have immune systems and whatever else going on such that these little nasties get dealt with early. You see these people who seem to live to 100 while smoking like chimneys, drinking like fish and so forth.

On the other hand, there’s those who die young of this and that. Leukemia, what have you - buddy of mine did some 20 years back. And he’d lived awfully clean all his life. Just happened that he got it.

You hear about the Human Genome project, analysing human DNA to see what does what? Well, that’s part of it, seeing what seems to confer resistance to such things and what seems to go hand in hand with susceptibility to cancer and this and that. They are working on it, studying and analysing and so on. But it’s far from a done deal. There is one hell of a lot to analyse, connections to be made and all that. And it’s likely that it’s not just one part of the DNA that causes a given thing, it’s a whole pattern over literally millions of segments in it. Tremendously complex pattern, like codebreaking but far more complicated.


More exposure probably gives more chances for those cells to go odd on ya, yes, taking precautions only makes sense; you may be one of those who are more likely to develop something grotesque. Makes sense to limit the chances, y’know?

hope that’s of use


…now , WHY do they call you ‘doc’ , again ?

heres the thread I started a while ago… you might want to look at the first picture in the thread, it is the reccommended attire for working w/ poly…;search_string=fashion;#221663

you cant see my feet in the pic but i was wearing booties like what surgeons wear.

Listen its pretty simple and cost you about $40.00 in protective gear, and practice. One once you get better at glassing you shouldn’t have resin all over your body, and you shouldn’t have huge puddles on the floor. If you use UV you shouldn’t be using Catalyst…unless opaque jobs, But UV resin will still burn.

Everytime you walk into the shop…you must wear some kind of mask, either the $28.00 organic kind, for glassing, or the paper kind for shaping and sanding. Get use it it, it’s like buckling your seat belt, or hopefully…brushing you teeth. Also everytime you cut fiberglass cloth…wear a mask. If you wear a mask your taking care of 60% of the bad stuff, if you wear gloves your taking care of another 35%, now if you wear goggles you take care of the other 5%. (wearing gloves is a must too, not only from a safety stand point but, you best glassing tool is you finger. No better nose lap tool than the pinky) I’m no poster child for safety, I still wear my slippers, shorts, and tee shirt to glass. But I don’t sling the polyester everywhere and I glass in a well ventilated area, but I always wear mask & glove.

Don’t touch or breath the chemicals.


Howzit resinhead, Safety first when using poly, That $40 spent on protection will be the best money spent and a lot cheaper than the hospital bills that will come into effect sooner or later. Also get some of those latex gloves that you see in hospitals.Aloha,Kokua

Howzit Rick, It's to late for you, all those years of gluing with poly. Just kidding.Aloha,Kokua