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Isocyanates

Overview

Highlights

Isocyanates are compounds 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 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, and during the thermal degradation of polyurethane products.

Health effects of isocyanate exposure include irritation of skin and mucous membranes, chest tightness, and difficult breathing. Isocyanates include compounds classified as potential human carcinogens and known to cause cancer in animals. The main effects of hazardous exposures are occupational asthma and other lung problems, as well as irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin.

Standards

Isocyanates hazards are addressed in specific standards for general industry, maritime, and construction.

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Hazard Recognition

Provides references that may aid in recognizing and evaluating hazards associated with isocyanates in the workplace.

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Evaluating Exposure

Provides links and references to additional resources related to isocyanates in the workplace.

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Possible Solutions

Highlights references that may aid in controlling exposure to hazards associated with isocyanates in the workplace.

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Additional Resources

Provides links and references to additional resources related to isocyanates in the workplace.

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Highlights