Navigating Diisocyanate Regulations: EU and Canada’s Parallel Efforts
Diisocyanates play a pivotal role in the production of polyurethane foams, coatings, and adhesives, but their inherent reactivity poses significant health risks, including skin and respiratory irritations, and allergies, especially in occupational settings. Understanding the dangers associated with diisocyanates is paramount as we witness significant regulatory changes both in the EU and Canada.
EU Diisocyanate Regulations Explained
Commencing on August 24, 2023, the EU will enforce stringent regulations governing diisocyanate usage in industrial and professional settings. Compliance can be achieved through two primary avenues: limiting diisocyanate concentration to less than 0% by weight or ensuring that employees receive proper training on their safe usage. These measures are a response to the alarming surge in occupational diseases linked to diisocyanate exposure, with asthma cases being particularly prominent.
To prepare for compliance, businesses are presented with two distinct options. They can opt to provide training for their workforce, ensuring adherence to the regulations, albeit posing challenges related to staff turnover and training course availability. Alternatively, businesses can explore alternative adhesive products, which can eliminate the need for training and potentially improve long-term production processes.
The choice between these approaches largely hinges on the organization’s size and product history. Smaller operations may find training more manageable, while larger ones with extensive use of polyurethane adhesives might discover that transitioning to alternative products offers greater efficiency.
Canada’s Approach to Diisocyanates: Risk Management
In Canada, parallel concerns surrounding Methylenediphenyl Diisocyanates (MDIs) have catalyzed action. The Canadian government has identified specific MDI substances as priorities for risk management due to potential harm to human health, particularly stemming from low-pressure two-component spray polyurethane foam products. To address this issue, a Code of Practice for Certain Methylenediphenyl Diisocyanates in Low-Pressure Two-Component Spray Polyurethane Foam Products was introduced in 2020. This code aims to reduce general population exposure to MDIs by establishing best practices for safe usage, disseminating health and safety procedures, and offering training materials to ensure proper handling.
These regulatory changes in both the EU and Canada underscore the global importance of safe diisocyanate usage across various industries. The focus remains on compliance as an essential means of protecting the health and well-being of workers and consumers alike.