Diisocyanates can lead to respiratory and skin diseases. This group of chemicals is an important substance class in industry and is used in the manufacture of polyurethane-containing materials (e.g. paints, foams). Due to the reported occupational asthma cases caused by diisocyanates throughout the EU and their incidence, BAuA has seen a need for additional regulation for the marketing and use of diisocyanates that complements the existing chemical and occupational health and safety regulations. The REACH restriction subsequently initiated in 2016 entered into force in 2020. It includes, among other things, a training requirement for diisocyanate workers from August 2023.
In a prospective 5-year cohort study, exposure to these substances and the occurrence of respiratory diseases under the restriction measures will be followed in companies using diisocyanates. The feasibility study (project F2458) indicated that such a study is feasible. The Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine (Institut für Prävention und Arbeitsmedizin, IPA) will conduct the subsequent main study, supported by BAuA and other cooperation partners. The aims of the study are to assess the incidence of work-related respiratory diseases and lung function changes caused by diisocyanates, to describe the cases that occur, to determine exposure to diisocyanates, to describe a dose-response relationship between exposure and the occurrence of these diseases, and to systematically test the effectiveness of the measures specified in the REACH restriction. The latter will in particular be examined by a cluster randomized intervention study before training becomes mandatory. The project will provide both an important element for evaluating the regulations initiated by BAuA and a basis for further policy advice on diisocyanates and other respiratory sensitizing substances.
Unit 4.3 "Toxicology"
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