The REAL Health Consequences of Epoxy Moisture Mitigation

Part B… the “Nasty Stuff”

We’ve known for some time now about the risks associated with the use and installation of 2-part epoxy moisture mitigation (EMM) materials to combat the potential for adhesive failure related to elevated concrete moisture. These risks have typically centered around the “Part B” in the 2-part mixture. Part B is a blend of organic amines (Phenylmethylamines) that are Class 1A corrosives, have a solution pH in excess of 11 and when mixed create an exothermic (heat) reaction. Organic amine hardeners are generally hazardous and classified as toxic and/or carcinogenic/mutagenic. In particular, Aromatic amines such as those found in EMM materials present an even greater health hazard (most are known carcinogens), and their use is now restricted to specific industrial applications. The mixture of part A/part B will generate sufficient heat to cause chemical burns, tissue damage, delayed pulmonary edema, shock, and even develop into skin sensitization with repeated exposure.

Out of this palate of harmful issues, skin sensitization or allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) has a particular interesting negative consequence. ACD is a serious problem, but actually less than 2% of epoxy users are likely to get it. ACD occurs when the body hyper-reacts to an allergen. The individuals immune system and the degree/frequency of exposure are key factors which can positively affect the chances of developing ACD. Flooring contractors who become sensitized and develop ACD are no longer able to be present when EMM materials are installed.

Part A… formerly the “Safe Stuff”

It use to be that the primary risk associated with epoxy use was related to the hardener component (reactive amine either aliphatic or aromatic) and not to the epoxy resin itself (Paart A). That may be changing with new research on male infertility and exposures to Bisphenol A (BPA). If you haven’t guessed already, BPA is Part A in the 2-Part EMM. Startling new evidence suggests male infertility may be a direct result of exposure to environmental factors. Referred to as “Environmental Castration” by a recent Newsweek article, a growing band of researchers have come to suspect endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as BPA may be a root cause. These chemicals mimic the effect of the feminizing hormone estrogen and can interfere with masculinizing hormones like testosterone. Even more concerning, as a fetus develops in a mother’s uterus, it is barraged by hormones and other chemicals that sculpt development. That includes the male reproductive system—testicles are formed in the womb, and although sperm levels can be altered in adulthood, they seem to be largely set before a boy is born. That means we could see sperm levels continue to decline for years, as boys who were exposed to endocrine disrupters before birth reach reproductive age and run into problems trying to have children of their own. –

What’s more, there is evidence that the effect of these endocrine disruptors increases over generations, due to something called epigenetic inheritance. Normally, acquired traits—like, say, a sperm count lowered by obesity—aren’t passed down from father to son. But some chemicals, like BPA, can change the way genes are expressed without altering the underlying genetic code, and that change is inheritable. If you’re a man with a lot of BPA in his system, you’ll produce less testosterone and fewer sperm. If exposed to BPA in utero, a male fetuses reproductive system itself will be altered: He will develop to be less male. –