Are Epoxy Floors Safe?
Epoxy floors provide commercial buildings such as warehouses, industrial facilities, commercial kitchens and healthcare centers with a sleek and reliable flooring system that can be customized to their own specific needs. They can be made abrasion-resistant and slip-resistant as well, which can be crucial for high traffic areas or spaces that use a lot of heavy machinery. But are epoxy floors safe?
The simple answer is, yes! Epoxy floors are not only attractive and easy to maintain, but they are also an incredibly safe flooring option, for a variety of reasons.
Epoxy Flooring Materials
Epoxy floors are made up of a combination of materials, mainly resin and hardeners. These materials combine in a chemical reaction when they are applied to a concrete surface. The hardener solidifies once it mixes with the resin, and results in an epoxy floor.
The hardeners that are used in this mixture, amidoamine, anhydride, and polyamide-based chemicals, are naturally non-toxic, except in very large amounts. Once cured, these materials are safe to breathe in, making them perfect for any commercial facility.
However, it is advisable to maintain proper protection, such as a face mask and gloves, if you are going to be in the room while the epoxy is being installed, or before it had properly cured, as epoxy can still pose a risk if ingested, inhaled, or if the mixture comes in contact with the skin.
*Breathing in the fumes of an epoxy floor during installation, before it is properly cured, can cause serious respiratory issues. The curing process usually takes between 24-72 hours to complete, and after this process is finished it is safe to remove your mask.*
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Every epoxy has its own volatile organic compound (VOC) level, which is the level of gas
that the compound releases into the air, whether as a solid or a liquid. This VOC level causes the odor that is produced when epoxy floors are installed.
Although epoxy floors release gasses into the air, there is no need for concern. This is because the epoxy flooring compounds that are currently used today contain very low VOC levels, making them safe to breathe in, once they are fully cured.
Can Epoxy Cause Cancer?
Some studies have shown that older epoxy materials, such as epichlorohydrin and diamino diphenyl sulfone (DDS), had the potential to cause cancer in some cases.
However, these contaminants are no longer used in large quantities in the epoxy systems of today. Safety is the main concern of all flooring contractors, especially at High Performance Systems, and our products do not contain any large amounts of these contaminants.
Epoxy Can Actually Increase Safety
We’ve covered all the reasons why epoxy flooring is not just safe to install, but also safe for long-term use. However, epoxy can do even more - it can increase the overall safety of the facility.
Epoxy flooring provides an added layer of protection for facilities, and is a much better choice than other flooring options, for a variety of reasons. This type of flooring can be made impact and slip-resistant, can withstand extreme temperatures, and can even survive a fire, maintaining the safety of your facility and your employees.
Additionally, since epoxy flooring welds to the concrete slab that it is poured onto, it fills in all of the open seams, cracks, and crevices that could potentially harbour dangerous bacteria, such as Listeria. This flooring system is also very easy to clean, making it an extremely sanitary option for facilities that store food and other perishable items.
Warehouse dust is also a major problem that can be solved by installing an epoxy floor. Not only can dust be slippery, it can also cause health risks due to employees breathing it in, which may leave your company liable. Dust can also be detrimental to the equipment in your facility, as it can enter and damage the internal electronics.
The only way to prevent concrete dusting from becoming a hazard in a warehouse, and to increase worker safety, is to seal the floors with an impervious coating. Epoxy coatings are especially effective in this scenario, and should be seriously considered.