Echa's Committees for Risk Assessment (Rac) and Socio-Economic Analysis (Seac) have agreed with Germany's proposal to restrict the use of diisocyanates in the workplace.
The restriction covers mandatory workplace training, to prevent new cases of occupational asthma occurring from exposure to the chemicals.
Together with polyols, diisocyanates form the building blocks of polyurethane. They are used to make both flexible and rigid polyurethane foams, as well as elastomers, binders and coating materials. The chemicals are not found in finished consumer products.
Methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), toluene diisocyanate (TDI), and hexamethylene diisocyanate are more likely to cause respiratory sensitisation, but the restriction covers other diisocyanates as well.
Industry made its support for the restriction clear during the comment period. However, there were some dissenting voices. For example, the UK Health and Safety Executive is not keen on compulsory training, instead considering that each member state should be able to decide on the most appropriate measures.
The polyurethane industry involves up to 240,000 companies in Europe, according to a 2013 Isopa survey.
A longer version of this article is available on Chemical Risk Manager.