When you do tiling work either on the wall or floors, the tiles need to be joined to keep moisture from getting underneath the tiles. The binding agent for tiles is called grout. It is a mixture of sand, cement, color and water. Many companies also offer a grout sealer to create an additional barrier to keep out moisture, but you need to take care in how you use it or you could face some health risks.
Types of Grout Sealer
There are two types of group sealer. The first type has a milky appearance that is applied to the tile by a brush or roller. It needs to be applied carefully so as not to get it on the tiles. The other type of sealer is a spray-on type of sealer. This type of sealer can’t be used on non-glazed tile because it will be absorbed by the tile.
Grout sealer will protect the grout from being stained while not changing the color of the grout. Most grout sealers are easy to apply and quick to dry. They not only protect the underlying floor or wall from moisture damage, but they offer the tiles UV protection.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled Stand ‘n Seal “Spray-On” Grout Sealer in August 2005. The 300,000-can recall was because 88 users of the sealer had an adverse reaction, including respiratory problems, after using the product. It was believed that even more problems went unreported. According the law offices of O’Steen and Harrison, who represented many of the users of the sealer, Stand ‘n Seal use was associated with other diseases, such as Reactive Airway Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS), chemical pneumonitis and obliterated bronchitis.
Many sealers contain harmful chemicals like propane, polymers, butyl acetate and hydrocarbons. Because of this, a grout sealer should only be used in areas with good ventilation. This will prevent vapors from building up and causing lung damage. You also need to keep the sealer containers out of prolonged exposure to the sun and heat. This can cause the fumes and vapors in the container to catch fire. You also need to wear safety glasses and gloves while using a grout sealer to avoid any contact with the sealer.
If you inhale fumes of the sealer, get some fresh air. Breathing should improve. If it doesn’t, get medical help. If you ingest the sealer, don’t vomit it back. Get medical help right away. If the sealer gets in your eyes, wash your eyes thoroughly for 15 minutes and then get medical help. If the sealer comes into contact with your skin, wash the area with soap and water.