In this article we will address the new regulations on diisocyanates, which arises from the commitment of the industry, to guarantee their safe use in workspaces.
The Role of Diisocyanates in Industry
Polyurethane (PU) adhesives and sealants are versatile, innovative and safe products. They are used in a wide variety of applications including construction, packaging, automotive, furniture, engineering, marine, transportation and many more.
PU products are obtained by the reaction of diisocyanates and polyols.
A New Regulation on Diisocyanates
On August 4, 2020, a new restriction on diisocyanates was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. This restriction refers to the respiratory and skin sensitization that diisocyanates can cause and requires that personnel be trained before their use. REACH is a European Union Regulation, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment against the risks that chemical products may pose. At the same time, it seeks to stimulate the competitiveness of the EU chemical industry.
These are the deadlines established by the regulations to train staff on how to apply PU products safely:
- On-pack labelling requirements: February 24, 2022
- All users must be trained and certified: August 24, 2023
FEICA plans to provide online training to facilitate its use. In addition, the material will be available for individual training in the classroom. All professional and industrial users who apply the product must have a certification to demonstrate attendance at the training, including a final exam. The legal text adopted requires that the training be given by an expert in health and safety at work. Employers must keep records of the training provided to their employees.
Likewise, member states may add additional requirements to what is defined in the REACH restriction. More information is required on how the training will be implemented in each member state.
Diisocyanates Frequently Asked Questions
Are diisocyanates safe?
Like any substance, diisocyanates are safe to use when the chemicals are handled in accordance with appropriate risk management and safety measures. It is also important to note that diisocyanates are practically not found in finished articles. Diisocyanates are only used as chemical reagents; they react with the polyol to form the PU product and are consumed during the reaction.
What is respiratory sensitization?
Sensitization means that after exposure, a person could become allergic to the substance. If a person becomes sensitized, every time they come into contact with the substance again (even at very low concentrations) they could have a severe allergic reaction and manifest respiratory problems (for example, asthma). Most people with diisocyanate-related asthma show improvement or full recovery after exposure has ceased.
What about PU products for consumer use?
The new regulation only applies to professionals and industry. Several years ago a specific restriction for consumer use went into effect.
On what date will this regulation come into force?
This regulation was adopted on August 4, 2020, and entered into force on August 24, 2020, which means that by August 24, 2023, all users of PU products must be trained and certified.
When should I update the labelling?
The legal requirements must appear on the packaging from February 24, 2022.
Will PU adhesives and sealants continue to be marketed?
The restriction is intended to prevent unsafe handling of diisocyanates, not to restrict the availability of the products. Due to its unique properties in many applications, PU adhesives and sealants will continue to be widely available.
Who should I contact if I have questions?
For more information on the state of development of the training or other related general issues, it is necessary to contact ASFECA or FEICA.
Where can I find more regulatory information on diisocyanates?
The diisocyanate industry provides information on diisocyanates and their safe handling on its website.
Consult this information in the infographic: A secure future for PU products