Occupational exposure to diisocyanates in polyurethane foam factory workers
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Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Łódź, Poland (Department of Occupational Diseases and Toxicology)
Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Łódź, Poland (Department of Chemical Safety)
The Regional Centre for Occupational Medicine, Łódź, Poland
Dr Karol Jonscher City Hospital, Łódź, Poland (Department of Internal Medicine)
Corresponding author
Dominika Świerczyńska-Machura   

Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Department of Allergology and Environmental Health, św. Teresy 8, 91-348 Łódź, Poland
Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2015;28(6):985-98
Objectives: The aim of the study was to evaluate health effects of occupational exposure to diisocyanates (DIC) among polyurethane foam products factory workers. Material and Methods: Thirty workers had a physical examination, skin prick tests with common allergens, allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to diisocyanates and pulmonary function tests. Concentrations of selected isocyanates in the workplace air samples as well as concentration of their metabolites in the urine samples collected from the workers of the plant were determined. Results: The most frequent work-related symptoms reported by the examined subjects were rhinitis and skin symptoms. Sensitization to at least 1 common allergen was noted in 26.7% of the subjects. Spirometry changes of bronchial obstruction of a mild degree was observed in 5 workers. The specific IgE antibodies to toluene diisocyanate (TDI) and 4,4’-methylenebis(phenyl isocyanate) (MDI) were not detected in any of the patients’ serum. Cellular profiles of the collected induced sputum (ISP) did not reveal any abnormalities. Air concentrations of TDI isomers ranged 0.2–58.9 μg/m3 and in 7 cases they exceeded the Combined Exposure Index (CEI) value for those compounds. Concentrations of TDI metabolites in post-shift urine samples were significantly higher than in the case of pre-shift urine samples and in 6 cases they exceeded the British Biological Monitoring Guidance Value (BMGV – 1 μmol amine/mol creatinine). We didn’t find a correlation between urinary concentrations of TDI, concentrations in the air and concentrations of toluenediamine (TDA) in the post shift urine samples. Lack of such a correlation may be an effect of the respiratory protective equipment use. Conclusions: Determination of specific IgE in serum is not sensitive enough to serve as a biomarker. Estimation of concentrations of diisocyanate metabolites in urine samples and the presence of work-related allergic symptoms seem to be an adequate method for occupational exposure monitoring of DIC, which may help to determine workers at risk as well as to recognize hazardous workplaces.
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