People look to silicone sealant to get a big project done not only because it is flexible and long-lasting, but also because it is generally very safe. However, as is the case with any materials used in home and industrial projects, there are some safety tips to keep in mind when working with silicone sealants. This post will outline a few of the most important ones:
Keep It Ventilated
Silicone sealants can let off strong fumes, so you should only use them in well-ventilated areas. Specifically, sealants containing acetoxy give off a strong smell of acetic acid that can cause dizziness or lightheadedness after long exposure. If you can’t fully ventilate your work area, be sure to wear NIOSH-approved respiratory gear to protect your breathing.
You may also want to avoid silicone products that contain fillers, or non-silicone materials mixed in. Sealants marked 100% premium or pure silicone will not introduce potentially harmful chemicals even during the curing process.
Safety Gear and First Aid
Working with silicone can cause allergic reactions and serious eye irritation in some people. To help avoid touching your face or eyes while working with sealants, always wear gloves and safety glasses or goggles. Also remember to wash your hands thoroughly after handling. If your eyes or skin do come into contact with a sealant, wash out the area immediately and for several minutes.
Silicone sealants can also cause stomach irritation, nausea, and vomiting if inhaled or swallowed. While “don’t consume sealant” might seem like obvious advice, it’s also important not to eat, drink, or smoke anything else while using these products and to keep them out of the reach of children. If you’re using silicone to caulk in the kitchen, make sure it’s labeled food-grade for safety in food prep areas.
Since many sealants come in the form of highly flammable aerosol cartridges and pressurized cans, it’s important to follow strict fire safety protocols—nobody wants an explosion. Do not store or wield these products anywhere near open flame or extreme heat, and keep a fire extinguisher or other fire retardant material on hand. You should also avoid doing welding or other heat work in the same area, even if you’re working around silicone foam that has already been exposed and cured.
There are just a few tips for being careful while working with silicone sealants. Fortunately, if you ever want to check the precautions for a specific product, just look for the link to its handy Safety Data Sheet under the product description.