Workplace exposures

EPA proposes rule to protect consumers, workers from toluene diisocyanates

Washington – The Environmental Protection Agency is considering limiting or prohibiting products that contain the chemical compound toluene diisocyanate.

The agency proposed on Jan. 8 a Significant New Use Rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act for consumer use of seven TDIs and related compounds. The rule would require manufacturers, importers and processors to inform EPA at least 90 days before beginning or resuming use of TDIs and related compounds at levels more than 0.1 percent in consumer products.

Diisocyanates are found in coating, adhesive and sealant products. Exposure has resulted in skin and lung sensitization in workers and can cause asthma, lung damage and death, according to EPA.

Exposure risk through inhalation and the skin increases when polyurethane products are used in uncured form rather than hardened form, particularly in spray sealants and coatings, EPA states.

Controls help protect workers from diisocyanates, but EPA stated it is concerned about exposures among consumers and self-employed workers, as well as incidental exposures when the products are used around homes and schools.

EPA will accept public comment for 60 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register.