What is the safest course of action if you just heard that one of your crew mixed up a large batch of epoxy and accidently left it in a pail in bulk long past its pot life? He's asking what to do about the boiling, spitting and smoking mixture which can reach temperatures in excess of 350 °F. In some cases, the epoxy mixture can become so hot it will self-ignite. If some epoxy products are mixed and left in bulk (not placed in use), an exothermic reaction can occur generating significant heat which can potentially lead to a fire.
If the pail is located inside a building, try to locate a bag of sand and gradually pour sand in the bucket. The sand dilutes the hot epoxy and also cools the mixture as it adds mass. Avoid moving the bucket without first ensuring that the crewman has a face shield, very heavy gloves and preferably 2 layers of protective clothing. If the pail is plastic and you suspect the material is hotter than 250 °F, it should not be moved by the handle as the plastic has lost much of its strength. If possible, transfer it outside on a pallet with a forklift to minimize the potential for burns. Be careful not to breath any smoke or fumes generated by the mixture.
If the hot container is located outside, you can cool the exterior of the pail with a fan or water and add sand, dirt, aggregate, cat litter or any inert particulate solid material to help cool the mass. Don't add water directly to the epoxy as the mixture of hot epoxy and water may increase the potential for accidental burns. Keep a dry powder fire extinguisher handy just in case.
Epoxy on skin
After some product exposure on the job, your skin itches--now what? Prolonged exposure to most construction chemicals (including epoxies) can result in dermatitis symptoms. The part b (hardener) can be very alkaline and cause burns. The best advice is to protect your skin by wearing long sleeves, long pants, and disposable gloves. Of course, you should double check the product SDS for any added PPE (don't forget eye protection--safety glasses, goggles or facemask) that will help safeguard you in the product application. Avoid breathing the vapors of the part b epoxy hardener components as these can be irritating to your lungs and may exacerbate your exposure. Learn to remove your gloves like a surgeon; grab the outside of one glove at the wrist and pull it inside out, then use that glove to pull off the other inside out so the chemicals remain on the inside surface.
Exposed skin can be protected by a barrier cream such as Gloves in a Bottle (800) 600-1881. Clothing should be cleaned regularly--don't wear the same shirt or pants 3 days in a row. Practice thorough hand scrubbing with a good (but mild) surfactant dishwashing soap at every break; avoid cleaning your hands with solvent. Maintain the cleanliness of everything you touch including: door handles, tools, product containers, benches and seats, steering wheel, ladders, and commonly used equipment. Keep a supply of paper towels and/or clean rags so you're not spreading a thin film of chemicals with every swipe. Don't eat or drink in the area where the products are being used. Minor irritations can be treated with cortisone cream. In the event your pants or shirt become contaminated (but you didn't notice until several hours later), the best practice is to remove the article of clothing and flush the area of skin for 10-15 minutes in cold water following by a soapy water rinse. Do not use solvents on your skin. For severe exposure cases, see an MD immediately.
Epoxy in the air
After repeated exposure to epoxies (and other polymeric adhesives), some people can become sensitized. This sensitization can occur through contact between epoxy and the skin but also through the lungs. An severe allergic reaction including hives and potentially difficult breathing is possible in very sensitized individuals. To prevent sensitization, insist on good ventilation when mixing, applying and sanding or grinding epoxies. If necessary, wear a mask or chemical filter during mixing or sanding activities especially in closed environments. A critical step is to always practice careful personal hygiene during work exposure periods.