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October 10 - October 16, 2011

What health and safety precautions do contractors have to take when applying isocyanate-cured epoxies in the field?

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Selected Answers

From Johnny Souza of AkzoNobel on January 26, 2013:
     All health and safety precautions are written in the MSDS of the product.

From Kevin Sayler of Cascade Health & Safety, LLC on October 18, 2011:
Following is a link to information on health and safety issues associated with isocyanates. They concentrate on truck bed lining products and foam operations, but also discuss specific information on MDI and TDI. The health and safety documents are in the 2nd section. These are useful in addition to MSDSs, which sometimes are very helpful. http://www.polyurethane.org/s_api/sec.asp?CID=1649&DID=6230 Hope that is helpful. Kevin Sayler, CIH Cascade Health & Safety, LLC

From Jerry Trevino of Protective Liner Systems on October 11, 2011:
Polymers containing or using isocyanate curing systems are dangerous to use in confined spaces. Typically, the applicators are using fresh air, forced air breathing apparatus; however, others nearby may not be wearing this equipment. If others are around or near the application, they, too, need have adequate personnel protection. With respect to product performance, if any moisture is present, isocyanate-cured products may not bond to moist surfaces such as those found on underground concrete structures.

From Gerald Burbank of Burbank on October 18, 2011:
 I, too, think Car F. overstates the dangers. Most of the documented cases involving sensitization occur in enclosed settings. More often than not, these cases involved working with urethane foam in factory settings where there is poor ventilation and concentrations are very high. Industrial coatings contain small amounts of these substances and are usually applied in environments where there is adequate ventilation. If isocyonates are contained in the coating, employees should be informed. Proper respiratory protection, personnel protective equipment and hygiene procedures should be employed. Exposure should be limited to below the recommended levels, both in terms of respiratory exposure and skin contact. Contractors should always be prudent and responsible when working with hazardous substances. However, we should also realize that eliminating 100% of the exposure to any hazard is neither required nor even feasible. Exposure must be managed so that workers are not exposed to levels that present a threat to employees health and welfare.

From Mark Anater of Willamette Valley Co. on October 17, 2011:
I have used isocyanate-containing products for years, and so have many other researchers, producers and contractors. I think Car overstates the hazards when he recommends avoiding them, but they must always be treated with a healthy respect. The safety precautions he outlines are correct and prudent. If you are not willing to do these things, you should not use isocyanates. As long as you use them correctly, they can work quite well.

From Car F. of Municipal City on October 14, 2011:
The first thing is to try to avoid using products that are sensitizers, as this one is. However, if you have no choice and you MUST use this product, then you'll need 1. a source of fresh air, renewable according to manufacturer's instructions; 2. respiratory protection equipment [regular cartridges and respirators WILL NOT WORK] that can create a negative pressure: SCUBA, fresh air compressor hood, etc.; 3. post warning signs to others in the area; 4. use disposable coveralls; 5. use disposable gloves and booties; 6. keep all the contaminated waste and leftover materials in a sealed container; 7. dispose of contaminated waste only in approved facilities; 8. create a "Safe Work Zone" perimeter around the contaminated area ... but most important. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS AND AVOID USING THESE PRODUCTS.

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