US regulator acts to address health concerns about MDI, TDI

13 April 2011 19:50  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released action plans to address the potential health risks of methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI), toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) and related compounds, the regulator said on Wednesday.

The measures could possibly include bans or restrictions on consumer products containing uncured MDI or TDI, the agency said.

“There has been an increase in recent years in promoting the use of foams and sealants by do-it-yourself energy-conscious homeowners, and many people may now be unknowingly exposed to risks from these chemicals,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

“EPA is working to protect the health of the American people and the environment,” he added.

Di-isocyanates are used to make polyurethane polymers.

The EPA said most polyurethane products, such as foam mattresses or bowling balls, are fully reacted or "cured" and are not of concern.

Some products, however, such as adhesives, coatings and spray foam, continue to react while in use, and may contain "uncured" di-isocyanates to which people may be exposed, the agency said.

Di-isocyanates are known to cause severe skin and breathing responses in workers who have been repeatedly exposed to them, it said.

The chemicals have been documented as a leading cause of work-related asthma, and in severe cases, fatal reactions have occurred, it added.

Actions to address health concerns from TDI, MDI and related compounds include issuing rules to call in data on any past allegations of significant adverse effects, obtain unpublished health and safety data from industry sources, require exposure monitoring studies for consumer products and possibly ban or restrict consumer products containing uncured MDI or TDI, the agency said.

“EPA will continue to work with other federal agencies, the polyurethanes industry and others to ensure improved labelling and provide comprehensive product safety information for polyurethane products containing uncured compounds, especially in consumer products,” it added.

More information about spray polyurethane foam is available on EPA’s website.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653

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