Allergic to Alumilite

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Toth Art

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Feb 23, 2016
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Saint Paul, Minnesota
I went from a beginner pen turning class, making a non-finished slimline pen in December to stabilizing my own wood, and casting my own blanks by February. I set up my workshop paying rent in the basement of our building and bought all the tools and equipment only to find out I'm allergic to Alumilite casting resin. Itchy arms, hands, looks like poison ivy. That's what I get for digging through my dust collector looking for a chip-out.

Please someone, tell me there's another product I can use. I have so many ideas for blanks it's driving me crazy to have to put this on hold.
 
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jttheclockman

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Feb 22, 2005
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NJ, USA.
I went from a beginner pen turning class, making a non-finished slimline pen in December to stabilizing my own wood, and casting my own blanks by February. I set up my workshop paying rent in the basement of our building and bought all the tools and equipment only to find out I'm allergic to Alumilite casting resin. Itchy arms, hands, looks like poison ivy. That's what I get for digging through my dust collector looking for a chip-out.

Please someone, tell me there's another product I can use. I have so many ideas for blanks it's driving me crazy to have to put this on hold.
Hello Laura and welcome to the site. Glad you have found us.


I am going to have to say this is the first time I ever heard of someone being allergic to Alumilite (It could be possible). Other resins to try are polyester resins such as Cast-N-Craft resin which can be bought in Hobby Lobby or Michaels or other craft stores. But you have to be careful of shelve life with that product. It has been written about here many times that people have bought this and it was not fresh. The other big time go to resin is Silmar41 and can be bought in various places also. If you want to try that just ask for locations. These products work somewhat different than what you have been using and there are tricks and do's and dont's as with everything.

But with that said, you may want to focus your allergies to some type of wood. You say you are doing stabilizing of woods. Many people here are allergic to various woods such as cocobola, snakewood, pink ivory and many of the woods that have oils in them. Routing through the trash and you may have stired some dust that is what I am talking about. You may have to do some experimenting on your own to try to narrow the possibilities down.

Some people develop allergies to various woods over time and it is not an overnight thing, so this could be tricky.

Good luck and hope you are better so you can enjoy your new found hobby. :)
 

mecompco

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Apr 24, 2015
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1,607
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Fairfield, Maine
Do you turn any Cocobolo? I did several pens with it with no problems. Suddenly, I started getting exactly the symptoms you describe. I'm sure there are other woods that might also cause a reaction, luckily I've not run into them yet.
 

ElMostro

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Mar 17, 2007
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San Antonio, TX.
Did you get the reaction while turning it or after you went digging in the DC? What else was in the DC? As mentioned above could be wood dust from something you turned/cut earlier.
 
Joined
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Tellico Plains, Tennessee, USA.
My thoughts are along same lines as above... you skin irritations are more likely wood related .... if you are allergic to a particular wood, don't turn it as the sensitivity only gets worse.

I don't have it handy and I'm sure someone can tell you where, but there's a chart of woods that shows sensitivity levels and what type.... I have more trouble with the dust than with skin.... I have a trend air shield that's been a God send in keeping the dust out of my nose and lungs.
 

jttheclockman

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Feb 22, 2005
Messages
12,663
Location
NJ, USA.
My thoughts are along same lines as above... you skin irritations are more likely wood related .... if you are allergic to a particular wood, don't turn it as the sensitivity only gets worse.

I don't have it handy and I'm sure someone can tell you where, but there's a chart of woods that shows sensitivity levels and what type.... I have more trouble with the dust than with skin.... I have a trend air shield that's been a God send in keeping the dust out of my nose and lungs.


Wood Allergies and Toxicity | The Wood Database
 

mark james

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Sep 6, 2012
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Location
Medina, Ohio
Hi Laura:

ALL the above comments are excellent, and I will also voice a thought that digging in your dust collector may not be the best idea.

However; I AM ALSO ALLERGIC to Alumilite! So yes, it is possible. Alumilite is a Urethane, and yes, folks can get Urethane Sensitivities.

My solution is workable, very inconvenient, costs a bit, but has been effective:

http://content.penturners.org/library/tools_and_jigs/casting_box.pdf

Whether you try this system or not, these are MY circumstances:

My Docs are at the Cleveland Clinic.

I have had rashes for 2 1/2 years. They get slightly better, but do not go away. Continued exposure to urethane resins will only make them worse. I have tried many (6+ prescription ointments) creams, several pills, none has been effective. The most recent, and has worked the best has been Cyclosporin, but it is hard on the Kidneys, will push your blood pressure up, and is not a long-term possibility... So I really have no good news for you (and I) for a Urethane sensitivity. (Which is quite rare - Alumilite is a very safe, well researched, well used product. So no issues with Alumilite... It's us!).

I have used my "fume hood" only on specific occasions, and it has gone well. A smoke test does show that all the fumes get expelled outside of my garage, rather than anywhere close to me. I will use it without any concern about worsening my sensitivity.

However... I do have a blessed Back-up supervisor: My Wife! She is a PhD Chemist in Polymer Chemistry (yup, scary knowledge about Urethanes); has tested my fume hood; has tested my air circulation; has tested my fume hood concentrations; and has repeatedly told me: "You have two choices: Eliminate any possibility of further exposure (Rashes will only get worse); or eliminate the hobby (Casting)." NOTE: My wife has placed Assistant Chemists on Medical Disability due to Urethane Sensitivities... They simply cannot be in the lab. (How the heck I married an expert in Urethanes 32 yrs ago and developed a hobby using urethanes is beyond me!).

OK... Laura, there are MANY avenues to enjoy penturning (You know where this is going!). IF, you have a Urethane Sensitivity, I'd seriously recommend you not continue using Alumilite unless you ca be assured of a "No Exposure" environment. Possible? - Yes. Do I do it? - Yes.

I will happily trade PM's with you if that may be helpful!

Finally, I will simply state that as a "hobbist" with penturning - I will willingly (but grudgingly) forgo casting to continue with this pastime!

As many others have cautioned younger woodturners - "Don't go cheap on the dust collection, your lungs will be grateful." I will caution: "Don't work with chemicals that are not suited for you - there are too many other options for penturning."

Most Importantly! Welcome, continue to ask questions, and have FUN!

Best Regards, Mark
 
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