FIberglass is an endlessly useful building material, but it poses a multitude of dangers to the user. As anyone who has installed fiberglass insulation can tell you, once fiberglass contacts your skin, it is extremely itchy and difficult to remove. Fiberglass resin compounds this problem because it requires sanding, which causes the fiberglass particles to become airborne, where they can not only affect your skin, but your eyes and respiratory system as well.
Sanding fiberglass resin creates dust that quickly settles into every open crevice. If it comes in contact with your skin, the particles are tiny enough to settle into your pores, where they become lodged so firmly that scrubbing will only make it worse. It is extremely itchy, and can cause rashes, welts and severe irritation and inflammation. To avoid this problem, make sure you are completely covered from head to toe before you begin sanding. Wear gloves,tuck your long sleeves into those gloves, and tuck your pants into your socks. If you plan to complete a large project with fiberglass resin, it may be worthwhile to invest in a pair of coveralls. The clothes you wear while sanding the resin should be washed separately from other clothes to avoid transferring the particles. If the dust does manage to contact your skin, rinse it off with cold water, stroking your skin gently in a downward motion. Hot water and scrubbing will only push the particles deeper into your pores.
Once the dust is airborne, it can easily get into your eyes, where it will lodge just as well as it does in your skin. This is worsened by the fact that your eyes are moist, which gives the dust something to stick to, and the fact that the conjunctiva is a mucous membrane, which is more sensitive than epidermis. Besides severe irritation, fiberglass resin dust can cause itchiness that will make you rub your eyes, grinding the dust deeper into your eyeball and possibly causing a corneal abrasion. Wear goggles when sanding fiberglass resin, and never wear contact lenses - these can trap dust particles against your eye, increasing the irritation and abrasion. Be careful not to touch your eyes, or even the area around your eyes, until your hands are thoroughly clean. If dust does get in your eyes, flush them thoroughly with cold water.
This same airborne dust that irritates your skin and eyes can also cause damage to your respiratory system if you inhale it, because it is abrasive. It will not only irritate your nasal passages, but it can become lodged in your sinuses, or worse, make its way into your lungs. Fiberglass resin also tends to retain its fumes when dry, so sanding will expose you to vapors that can cause dizziness, weakness, fatigue and nausea. Wearing a respirator will protect you from these effects, but if you begin to feel sick at all, step away for some fresh air and increase the ventilation to your work area.