Thursday, April 14, 2011

EPA Announces Two More Chemical Action Plans

The USEPA has finally released two more chemical action plans.  These new plans "address the potential health risks of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), toluene diisocyanate (TDI), and related compounds."  According to EPA, diisocyanates are used to make polyurethane polymers, but they were clear to point out that "most polyurethane products, such as foam mattresses or bowling balls, are fully reacted or "cured," and are not of concern."  They are concerned, however, about other products "such as adhesives, coatings, and spray foam," that would be expected to "continue to react while in use, and may contain "uncured" diisocyanates to which people may be exposed."

According to EPA, diisocyanates "are known to cause severe skin and breathing responses in workers who have been repeatedly exposed to them. The chemicals have been documented as a leading cause of work-related asthma, and in severe cases, fatal reactions have occurred."

“There has been an increase in recent years in promoting the use of foams and sealants by do-it-yourself energy-conscious homeowners, and many people may now be unknowingly exposed to risks from these chemicals,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “EPA is working to protect the health of the American people and the environment.”

Proposed actions include data call-in rules, exposure monitoring studies for consumer products, and possibly bans or restrictions on consumer products containing uncured MDI or TDI.

More information about spray polyurethane foam can be found on EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE) web site.  The action plans are found on the specific pages for MDI and TDI as linked on their initials above.

The action plans are how EPA is dealing with the lack of TSCA reform legislation; essentially better utilizing the authority it believes it has under the current TSCA law.

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