Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

August, 2002

Are Epoxy Paints Safe?

Q. My neighbor used a paint on her large inground outdoor swimming pool containing epoxy. She had a terrible itch develop. A bible school was held for there for a week. All the children swam daily. Several got sick, including my granddaughter. They all developed sore throats and fevers, and horrible head aches. It has been in the high 80's and 90's. Is it safe to paint a swimming pool with paint containing epoxy?

A. I am not an industrial toxicologist and cannot give you a definitive answer, but I will try to lead you in the right direction.

Epoxy coatings are often used as the interior linings of potable water tanks and pipes, and in these applications they are certainly considered to be "safe". By the word "safe" I assume we mean that there are no obvious or repeated health effects.

Although the epoxy resin might be safe, one must also look at the other ingredients in the coating, such as the pigments. It is possible, but that something in the coating caused the problem, but in my opinion, I doubt it.

Although I have already said that I'm not an expert in the field of industrial toxicology, I have not heard of symptoms, such as those you have described, being attributed to epoxies used in swimming pools.

The best suggestion I can offer is for your neighbor to go through the local Yellow Pages or browse the Internet for an Industrial Toxicologist. He/she will want to know when was the pool painted and specifically what epoxy paint was used? He/she might also want to look at the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that the paint vendor must make available to you. In addition, the industrial toxicologist might want to take samples of the swimming pool water and analyze it to see if he/she can find anything that can tie into the symptoms the children suffered.

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