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Occupational Exposure to Diisocyanates in the European Union

Objectives: Diisocyanates are a chemical group that are widely used at workplaces in many sectors. They are also potent skin- and respiratory sensitizers. Exposure to diisocyanates is a main cause of occupational asthma in the European Union. To reduce occupational exposure to diisocyanates and consequently the cases of diisocyanate-induced asthma, a restriction on diisocyanates was recently adopted under the REACH Regulation in the European Union.

Methods: A comprehensive evaluation of the data on occupational exposure to the most important diisocyanates at workplaces was made and is reported here. The diisocyanates considered are methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), toluene diisocyanate (TDI), and hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI), accounting for more than 95% of the market volume in the EU. The exposure assessment is based on data from Chemical Safety Reports (CSRs) of REACH Registration Dossiers, workplace air monitoring data from Germany, from the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and literature data relevant for the EU, and the USA.

Results: Occupational exposure to diisocyanates is particularly relevant in: (i) C.A.S.E. applications (Coatings, Adhesives, Sealants, Elastomers), (ii) production of polyurethanes (PUs) (e.g. slab-stock foam), (iii) handling of partly uncured PU products (e.g. cutting, demoulding, spray application of foam), and (iv) when diisocyanates/PUs are heated (e.g. hot lamination, foundry applications/casting forms). Ranking of the reported data on inhalation to diisocyanate exposure at workplaces (maximum values) leads to following order: (i) HDI and its oligomers in coatings, (ii) MDI in spray foam applications, (iii) TDI in manufacture of foam, (iv) TDI in manufacture of PUs and PU composite materials, (v) TDI in adhesives, (vi) MDI in adhesives, (vii) MDI in manufacture of PUs and PU composite materials, (viii) TDI in coatings, (ix) MDI in manufacture of foam, and (x) HDI in adhesives.

The complete article is published in the Journal "Annals of Work Exposures and Health" (2021).

Bibliographic information

D. Rother, U. Schlüter:
Occupational Exposure to Diisocyanates in the European Union. 
in: Annals of Work Exposures and Health, Volume 65, Issue 8 2021. pages 893-907, PDF file, DOI: 10.1093/annweh/wxab021

download file "Occupational Exposure to Diisocyanates in the European Union" (PDF, 477 KB, Not barrier-free file)

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