Sacramento, California – California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is to list spray polyurethane foam insulation materials that contain unreacted MDI as a priority product under the state’s Safer Consumer Products programme.
The regulation is set to go into effect on 1 July 2018. Manufacturers of these products must notify the department no later than 1 September 2018.
DTSC says its aim is to protect workers and consumers from exposure to MDI that could occur during the normal use of SPF systems. ‘Inhalation and dermal exposure to unreacted MDI is associated with adverse health effects, including asthma and allergic sensitisation,’ the agency said. ‘People who become sensitised to MDI may also experience life-threatening asthma attacks when subsequently exposed to extremely low levels of isocyanates.’
The decision was slammed by the American Chemistry Council. Its vice president of plastics, Steve Russell, said that the decision lacks scientific justification, was not supported by the record, and will lead to an inefficient use of public and private resources.
‘Since SPF was first suggested for this program more than four years ago, industry has voluntarily provided extensive scientific data and other materials that demonstrate SPF is not an appropriate choice for the SCP regulation,’ Russell said. ‘SPF does not meet the minimum listing criteria set by the department’s own regulations. ACC is disappointed that the department disregarded product stewardship initiatives that already exist and declined constructive efforts by industry to develop more effective alternative approaches to SPF regulation.’
ACC is urging California to support policies that capitalise on how SPF can help address climate change instead. ‘Taking advantage of SPF’s environmental benefits will help California achieve the energy efficiency and climate change goals mandated by its governor, and California’s landmark climate change legislation AB 32,’ Russell said.
‘California homeowners and builders can and should continue to rely on SPF products,’ he added. ‘Installed SPF, which is chemically inert, is an effective and proven building material with a 40-year track record of success. Each year an estimated 10% of California homes are built with SPF insulation, resulting in energy efficiencies such that homes insulated with SPF could help eliminate 800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, the equivalent of removing 2,700 cars from California’s roads each year.’