Methacrylates and Industrial Hygiene
US industry produces over 1.5 billion pounds of methacrylate monomers per year in what are regarded as essentially closed manufacturing systems. These monomers are subsequently polymerized, again by industrial manufacturers, to form cast acrylic sheet, acrylic emulsions, and moulding and extrusion resins. Methacrylate based polymers and copolymers are subsequently used by downstream industries in the manufacture of a wide range of products including waterborne, solvent, and solid surface coatings, adhesives, sealants, leather and paper coatings, inks, floor polishes, textile finishes, medical and dental products etc.
As with all chemicals, it is important to read and understand the information contained within the MSDS provided by the supplier and to take those steps deemed necessary to ensure safe handling in the workplace. The Methacrylate Producers Association and the CEFIC Methacrylates Sector Group have, based upon their 50+ years of experience in the safe handling of these chemicals, prepared Safe Handling Guidelines for Methacrylic Acid and the methacrylate esters (MMA, EMA, BMA and 2-EHMA). Copies of these documents are available through your supplier.
As it is recognized that Methacrylic acid is corrosive and the esters are skin sensitizers (contact allergens) the proper selection, use and maintenance of protective gloves is important to ensuring safe handling of these chemicals. (see Methacrylate Monomers: Safe Use of Gloves)
Further information on recommended occupational exposure limits is included under the Respiratory Irritation section.