About Isocyanate Detection & SafeAir® Aromatic Isocyanates Badges
How Are Isocyanates Used?
Isocyanates are widely used in industry. The two most common forms are toluene diisocyanate (TDI) and methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), which are used primarily in polyurethane manufacturing for products such as insulation, mattresses, furniture and car seats. They are also used in spray-on protective coatings, adhesives, paints, and varnishes. While the use of isocyanates is common, worker exposure to isocyanates can be hazardous. TDI detection capability and MDI detection capability should be in place whenever these chemicals are in use.
What Are The Health Effects Of Isocyanates?
Exposure to isocyanates can cause occupational asthma, irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat, and cancer. Deaths have occurred from high dose exposures to isocyanates. Respiratory illnesses also can be caused by isocyanate exposure to the skin. Given the health effects, all facilities using isocyanates should have an isocyanate safety program which includes proper engineering procedures, protective equipment, and isocyanate monitoring.
How Are OSHA And Industry Involved With Isocyanate Safety?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States has implemented a National Emphasis Program to protect workers from the serious health effects from occupational exposure to isocyanates. OSHA develops national emphasis programs to focus outreach efforts and inspections on specific hazards in an industry. Through this National Emphasis Program, OSHA is focusing on workplaces that use isocyanate compounds in an effort to reduce occupational illnesses and deaths. Such workplaces often utilize both a stationary isocyanate monitor for wide-area isocyanate monitoring, and isocyanate monitoring badges for individual isocyanate monitoring. For instance, a facility which utilizes MDI will use a stationary MDI monitor as well as MDI monitoring badges.
Many isocyanate producers are members of the International Isocyanate Institute (III). The III website indicates that the principal aim of the Institute is to promote the safe handling of MDI and TDI, with respect to the workplace, the community and the environment.
Many isocyanate producers recommend that employees with exposure potential should wear TDI badges and/or MDI badges as part of a comprehensive isocyanates monitoring program. Such badges are known as isocyanate detection badges, isocyanate indicator badges or isocyanate monitoring badges. Morphix has a strong relationship with the isocyanate industry, and has been contracted in the past to perform environmental and exposure testing for numerous industry participants. Many companies that make and use isocyanates throughout the world use SafeAir Aromatic Isocyanates indicator badges for workers in their production facilities.
What Does An Isocyanate Detection Badge Do?
The SafeAir Aromatic Isocyanates badge (part number 382001) detects both TDI and MDI at parts per billion (ppb) levels. A worker wears this easy-to-use badge in the breathing zone (e.g. clipped to a shirt collar) in order to monitor for aromatic isocyanates (i.e. TDI and MDI). The detection badge can also be used to monitor for TDI or MDI leaks by hanging the badge near a suspect area. A change in color on the badge, in the shape of an exclamation mark, alerts the user to exposure to an aromatic isocyanate. Morphix also offers a SafeAir TDI color comparator (part number 383005), which can be used to read exposure dose levels by matching the color on the isocyanate monitoring badge to the color in the TDI comparator. The SafeAir badge and comparator system provides a cost-effective means of isocyanate detection. They help ensure that workers are aware of their exposure to aromatic isocyanates.
For more technical and use information, see the SafeAir Aromatic Isocyanates badge Operating Instructions.