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Dangers Of Polyurethane
Dangers of Polyurethane
Feb 12th 2015
Polyurethane, the word sounds very familiar. That’s because this chemical is found in many everyday products. It can be found in industrial floor sealers, badminton courts, foam seating, bed mattress foam, spandex, adhesives, sealants, paints, rubber, synthetic fibers that make up our clothing and garden hoses. Polyurethane is truly a very versatile compound humanity has taken for granted. However, after several decades of use, the compound has been found to be the culprit of allergies and respiratory problems of millions of people due to constant exposure. Polyurethane dangers are virtually everywhere.
Polyurethane is not about to go away but it’s important for people to be aware of the dangers of exposure to this compound. Actually, well-manufactured polyurethane is no danger at all. Its dangerous components are rendered inert or non-toxic if successfully bonded. Some dishes, utensils and containers are also made of polyurethane-based materials. However, the bonding is not often one-hundred percent which leaves some of its ingredients active. One main ingredient, the cause of polyurethane dangers is isocyanates. Isocyanates are organic compounds made of two other compounds amines and phosgenes which are both dangerous on their own.
Isocyanates released by polyurethane-based products can cause various reactions such as the irritation of the skin, the eyes, nose and throat, breathing difficulties and chest tightness. Isocyanates are the main contributor to occupational asthma especially among paint and sealant applicators in various industries since polyurethane is a main ingredient of paints. Extreme exposure to isocyanates can cause blindness, disabilities and even death. Isocyanates from a chemical plant disaster in India cost the lives of thousands of people in 1984.
Since polyurethane is everywhere and won’t go away soon, the best way to avoid polyurethane dangers is to use as much natural-made products as possible. Keep away from cheaply made plastic products and stay away from freshly applied paints and floor sealants or coatings. Unfortunately for others especially people working in industrial areas, it’s not so simple. The solution would be to wear as much personal protective equipment as possible. Employees working with paints should demand PPEs from their employers.
Another solution is by using green polyurethane based products instead of conventional polyurethane products. Green polyurethane is the term for a chemical that works like polyurethane except without using isocyanates. This new substance borne out of nanotechnology techniques thoroughly binds with polyols making a more solid form of polyurethane and leaves no trace matter. Since green polyurethane behaves like ordinary polyurethane, and through isocyanate awareness, it’s being used more and more in paints, coatings, floor seals and other products. Painters, applicators and sealers can breathe more easily using hybrid coatings made from green polyurethane with no isocyanates.
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