ARTICLES / DANGERS OF ISOCYANATES
Non Toxic Floor Sealers
Non Toxic Floor Sealers
January 9th 2015
What is the difference between polyurethane and non-toxic polyurethane? Does non-toxic polyurethane exist and what is its impact on floor sealers and other polyurethane based products?
Floor sealers or polyurethane-based floor coatings are essential in most modern buildings. They provide an economical solution for floor aesthetics. Instead of expensive ceramic or vinyl tiles, there’s a uniform glossy, almost maintenance free flooring. Floor sealers are also for safety as they provide a seemingly smooth yet tract surface. Floor sealers also prevent water leakage or seepage. Industrial water cannot seep into the ground thus damaging the environment and ground water is prevented from leaking into the facility. However, as economic as polyurethane-based floor sealers sound, there are some things that have to be considered. Cheap floor sealers, which many facilities seem to be using more and more lately aren’t as economical as they seem. These floor sealers behave like paint and get brittle over time thus requiring them to be re-applied periodically.
Time is not the only enemy of floor sealers. Various industrial chemicals and even organic compounds can react negatively to polyurethane-based floor sealers. Again, damaging them, making them brittle and prone to flaking. Chemical processing plants and cheap floor sealers don’t mix. Food processing plants, hot and cold temperatures and cheap floor sealers are a disaster. When floor sealants flake away from the flooring, industrial chemicals can spill onto the exposed flooring and seep into and contaminate the groundwater. The isocyanate compounds in the sealant itself present a danger to the environment.
In the case of food processing plants, the danger doesn’t just lie in the disintegration of the floor coating, but in the floor coating itself. Like in industrial plants, processed organic waste can also contaminate the ground through exposed floor surfaces. The worse danger, when keeping foods in facilities with unstable polyurethane-based floor sealers, is contamination.
After decades of using polyurethane-based products, it’s been found out that dangerous isocyanates, compounds used to make polyurethane are released into the environment. In an ideal scenario, these isocyanates, when completely bonded to their counterpart polyol, become inert or they are no longer poisonous. However not all the isocyanates become bonded and they are released into the environment in minute amounts after application of the floor sealer. Thus, foods and medicines stored in warehouses with newly applied or degraded floor coatings get contaminated with isocyanates.
If floor sealers are a danger then why use them at all?
Floor sealers are still essential wherein they still keep out more than what they put in but concerns about them being a health hazard still shouldn’t be ignored as non-reactive isocyanates from polyurethane based-products cause various respiratory problems and is fatal in large amounts. And because of the dangers of polyurethane, research has been done to produce alternative compounds known as non-toxic polyurethane or green polyurethane. Green polyurethane behaves or works just like polyurethane except without the isocyanates. A new nanotech-based material is used and binds well with the polyols to create non-toxic polyurethane. Floor sealers made with green polyurethane are more stable and last longer. It’s actually more economically feasible to use green polyurethane based sealers than conventional ones because they virtually won’t require periodic re-application. With green polyurethane, floor sealers just got environmentally safer.