OSHA Announces New National Emphasis Program for Isocyanates
Designed to raise awareness of dangers, including lung problems, skin irritation
OSHA recently announced an effort to raise awareness of employers, workers, and health and safety professionals of the dangers of occupational exposure to isocyanates. These are compounds containing the containing the isocyanate group (-NCO). They react with compounds containing alcohol (hydroxyl) groups to produce polyurethane polymers, which are components of polyurethane foams, thermoplastic elastomers, spandex fibers, and polyurethane paints. Isocyanates are the raw materials that make up all polyurethane products. Jobs that may involve exposure to isocyanates include painting, foam-blowing, and the manufacture and thermal degradation of many polyurethane products, such as chemicals, polyurethane foam, insulation materials, surface coatings, car seats, furniture, foam mattresses, under-carpet padding, packaging materials, shoes, laminated fabrics, polyurethane rubber, and adhesives.
Isocyanates include compounds classified as potential human carcinogens and are known to cause cancer in animals. The main effects of hazardous exposures are occupational asthma and other lung problems and chest tightness, as well as irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, skin, and mucous membranes.
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