Most of us take for granted that the products we use and depend on in everyday life – from clothing and footwear to flooring and furniture to the cars that we drive, to name a few – are made possible through chemistry. These items are safer and more comfortable through the use of foams, elastomers and adhesives – made possible through chemical building blocks like diisocyanates. Diisocyanates are one of the thousands of essential chemical products manufactured by Dow.
Dow produces a group of toluene diisocynate (TDI) products, used as raw materials that fully react with other ingredients to make polymers known as polyurethanes. While polyurethanes have been proven to be safe in these important end-use applications, raw chemical materials that enable these products must be handled and used safely in the manufacturing setting as they are converted into essential products.
TDI has the ability to cause what is known as sensitization, an allergic respiratory or skin reaction, to individuals who handle it in a workplace setting. For this reason, regulations require manufacturers to label all TDI-based products with 0.1 percent or more of free TDI ingredient as hazardous. However, at concentrations below 0.1 percent, classification and labeling as hazardous was not required by regulation, unless other hazardous components were present. Therefore using good product stewardship practices as the driver, more information was needed to classify the remaining TDI-based ingredients, namely the TDI pre-polymer.
While there are many challenges associated with testing TDI pre-polymers, Dow’s world-class scientists designed and conducted several toxicological tests that determined these pre-polymers have the potential to cause sensitization. Based on these findings, Dow is promoting labeling of similar TDI-based pre-polymers as hazardous. Dow is now in the process of notifying the regulatory authorities and educating industry stakeholders about the sensitization risks associated with TDI pre-polymers, and encouraging other companies to review their classification and labeling. When Dow’s TDI-based pre-polymers are brought to the market, the company will proactively label them as sensitizers, unless they are proven otherwise.
Dow is proud to be leading a new approach to polyurethane pre-polymer labeling, and this is just one example of how the company is demonstrating environment, health and safety leadership, and ensuring that downstream users of its products are properly informed of hazards to enable safe handling procedures. This activity is consistent with Dow’s commitment and track record for contributing to the development of responsible chemicals management policy and best practices around the globe.
For more information, please visit: www.DowProductSafety.com.