Loudon, Tennessee – The Polyurethane Foam Association (PFA) has responded to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to introduce a significant new use rule for TDI.
The organisation released a position paper explaining why there is no risk of exposure to toluene diisocyanate (TDI) to consumers.
Robert Luedeka, PFA executive director said the use of TDI in flexible PU foam renders the material harmless.
“The recent EPA proposal to regulate new uses for TDI in consumer products may be confusing to some readers. While TDI is used as a basic raw material in the manufacture of flexible polyurethane foam, the TDI raw material is reacted in the foaming process, becoming a harmless polymer," he said.
"After foam has been produced, including a cure cycle, numerous tests show that there is no remaining TDI available for possible exposure. While the EPA document clearly states that cured polyurethane foam products are not expected to provide opportunity for exposure, the language in the document may be confusing and should be clarified for those who are not familiar with polyurethane foam production and foam products,” added Luedeka.
“Part of the confusion may come from the fact that there are many types of polyurethane products. Some polyurethanes, such as certain glues, adhesives and coatings, may involve 2-part components that are mixed and chemically reacted when used by consumers. Some of these component parts may contain raw diisocyanates.
“Use of TDI in 2-part consumer products is rare, as TDI is a known irritant and there are reports of some people developing asthma-like symptoms as a result of exposure. Special precautions are needed where there is potential for TDI exposure,” said Luedeka.
“However, the type of soft, flexible polyurethane foam used to cushion mattresses, furniture and car seats is an entirely different type of polyurethane product. In this application, there are no raw materials available in cured foam products and no potential for contact with TDI,” Luedeka emphasised.
If a significant new use rule is accepted, manufacturers using TDI in its processes will be required to submit details to the EPA and gain approval for use. The previous article at utech-polyurethane.com on this matter outlines how industry representatives can contribute to the consultation around this proposal.