Overview of hazardous materials and safety precautionsEdit

There are certain materials commonly used in the creation of costume armor that are hazardous to your health and should ONLY be used with proper safety equipment, ventilation and in accordance with the manufacturers safety recommendations.

The 405th costume armor group insists on the responsible use of these materials by its members and guests to these sites in the creation of costume armor

These hazardous materials include but are not limited to:

Polyester or 'Fiberglass' resinEdit

Polyester or 'Fiberglass' resin is a two part liquid plastic that is commonly sold for repair projects. A kit consists of a quantity of resin and a smaller quantity of catalyst or hardener. Adding the hardener to the resin in the manufacturers specified ratio (usually 1/10) will cause the liquid resin to cure to a very hard, yet brittle plastic. Using this resin in combination with fiberglass cloth yields a reinforced composite material that is strong, lightweight and rigid.

Polyester resin is a particularly dangerous material because of the fumes that it gives off in an unmixed state and during the curing process. Short-term effects of these fumes are dizziness, nausea and skin irritation. Long term effects of overexposure can include nervous system (brain) damage, asphyxiation, and cancer related hazards.

For further information, the Material Safety Data Sheet for this material can be found here.


Bondo is a two-part putty for the cosmetic repair of dents in cars, created by the Bondo Corporation. While the term "Bondo" is a brand name for this company's product, it is commonly used in the U.S. as a genericized trademark to refer to all auto-repair putties or so-called plastic body fillers. Bondo is a polyester resin product that when mixed with a hardener (an organic peroxide), or catalyst, turns into a putty which then sets and becomes rock-hard.

As bondo is variant of Polyester resin, it carries with it all the same hazards and potential for long-term damage, see above.

For further information, the Material Safety Data Sheet for this material can be found here.

Urethane resinEdit

Urethane resin is a low viscosity two part plastic that is frequently used for casting. The resin part of a urethane product is not very hazardous. This is because it is not actually a "urethane resin." Instead, it is any of several types of resins such as polyesters, polyethers, polyols, epoxies, and so on. These resins do not become "polyurethane" until they are reacted (cured, hardened, etc. ) with a diisocyanate. These diisocyanates are the problem. Diisocyanate hardeners are capable of causing severe respiratory allergies and lung damage. Most notably, they cause a debilitating incurable occupational illness called "isocyanate asthma." Sudden respiratory spasms and anaphylactic shock on exposure to diisocyanates also has resulted in death among workers using urethanes. There have been cases in which deaths occurred suddenly and without warning in people with no prior history of allergies.

For further information, the Material Safety Data Sheet for this material can be found here.

Super GlueEdit

Cyanoacrylate or ‘Super Glue” is the generic name for substances such as ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate, which is typically sold under trademarks like Superglue and Krazy Glue. Cyanoacrylate adhesives are sometimes known as "instant adhesives". The acronym "CA" is quite commonly used for industrial grades Cyanoacrylates bond skin and eyes in seconds. Cyanoacrylates give off vapor which is irritating to eyes, mucous membranes and the respiratory system.

For further information, the Material Safety Data Sheet for this material can be found here.


Epoxy or polyepoxide is a thermosetting epoxide polymer that cures (polymerizes and crosslinks) when mixed with a catalyzing agent or "hardener". Most common epoxy resins are produced from a reaction between two parts. Epoxies are frequently used as glue or hardeners in the craft and creations of costume armor.

The primary risk associated with epoxy use is sensitization to the hardener, which, over time, can induce an allergic reaction.Both epichlorohydrin and bisphenol A are suspected endocrine disruptors.According to some reports 5 Bisphenol A is linked to the following effects in humans:

  • oestrogenic activity;
  • alteration of male reproductive organs;
  • early puberty induction;
  • shortened duration of breast feeding;
  • pancreatic cancer

For further information, the Material Safety Data Sheet for this material can be found here.

Safety precautionsEdit

Fumes and VaporsEdit

Many of the materials used in costume armor making are hazardous but can be used safely by taking certain saftey precautions. First and foremost, most of these products require the use of a Organic Vapor Respirator. In addition to this precaution, saftey glasses and latex or nitrile gloves will protect against skin absorbtion and irritation from these chemicals.

There are many types of respirators designed for different uses. For the use of materials that cast off harmful vapors and organic fumes (Polyester Resin, Bondo, Urethane Resin, Epoxies) an OSHA or NIOSH approved respirator rated for fumes and organic vapors is absolutely necessary. These respirators use a cartridge filtration system that both filters and chemically neutralizes these hazardous chemicals.

Appropriate Respirators for fumes and vapors: Paint & Pesticide Twin Respirator, Paint & Pesticide Respirator.

Work with plenty of ventilation, and be safe. Don’t cheap out of your health, it WILL cost you later in life.

Dusts and ParticulatesEdit

The afforementioned respirators will filter dust and particualtes as well as fumes and vapors. If you wish to extend the life of your organic vapor respirator, you may want to use a different respirator while sanding.

A good dust mask will create a proper seal on your face, and will not allow unfiltered particulates to pass around the mask and into your lungs. Higher end dust mast are far more effective at this than cheap paper masks.

(Update:) Let's not forget that you can't always see the things that can kill you.

Here's one of our own, who is currently in the position of having a swollen throat, and constantly hacking up various colors of phlegm. When she tries to sing, it quickly becomes a coughing fit that seems to only find relief when her gag reflex is triggered so that she can vomit and open her throat enough to breathe properly. [BlacroseImmortal's Blog Entry] She didn't wear a respirator while dremeling fiberglass. She may be facing the opening stages of problems that may affect her for the rest of her life. She loved to sing. She may feel pretty stupid about it, but I'm willing to bet that there are a lot of folks reading this that aren't taking this seriously enough.

These things CAN mean the difference between life or death.

Skin Absorption/IrritationEdit

Latex, vinyl, or nitrile gloves will protect the exposed skin of your hands from skin irritation as well as from chemical burns, and absorbtion of the chemical through the porous membranes of your skin.

Eye protectionEdit

In additon to the previous measures, eye protection will prevent liquid splashes, and dusts from entering your eyes. Eyes can be extremely sensitive to these chemicals, and eye protection is a serious issue. As in all safety precaustions, it is better to wear it, that to regret it later.

Ever use your eyes for anything? Want to keep them? Then eye protection is for you,

The Bottom LineEdit

Here's one of our own from the 405th Forums, who is currently in the position of "regretting it later" [BlacroseImmortal's Blog Entry] She didn't wear eye protection. She feels pretty stupid about it, and two weeks later, when she regained use of her eye after the cysts were gone, she vowed to be more careful. Unfortunately, like a lot of you that are reading this now, she didn't take safety seriously enough to follow through on it, and ended up inhaling a sizable amount of Fiberglass particles (as mentioned above) when she used her dremel on fiberglass.

If you can't get the RIGHT type of eye protection, or air filtration systems, gloves, and/or whatever else is called for, you seriously need to postpone your activities.

The intention here isn't to scare you away from using lethally hazardous materials, it's to scare you towards taking your safety seriously, so that the "lethally hazardous" part, is no longer a hazard. It's possible to be safe while using these materials, but you need to take the effort to do so, rather than taking shortcuts, or assuming you're safe because you're "cautious" rather than spending the money to get the required equipment that will keep you safe. Better safe than dead, dying, or injured, right?


This article is taken in its entirety or in part from the UNSC 405th Forums:
The original author of this article was Sean Bradley.