The Problem of Conventional Coatings/Paint and Toxic Isocyanates
THE PROBLEM WITH ISOCYANATES
CONVENTIONAL POLYURETHANE (PU) PAINT AND COATINGS HAVE MANY DISADVANTAGES: they are porous, permeable and maintain poor hydrolytic stability. This makes the material highly vulnerable to environmental degradation and ultimately leads to their chemical decomposition, especially when in contact with water. Conventional PU foams such as spray foam insulation are applied via a spraying mechanism that sends toxic isocyanates in the air — exposing workers to the dangers of toxic isocyanates. Strict and costly health & safety measures have to be implemented in the manufacture and application of conventional polyurethane due to the toxicity of isocyanates. This is why regulatory bodies around the world are now looking toward phasing out the use of isocyanates.
The Green Polyurethane™ Solution
Green Polyurethane™ (also referred to as “HNIPU” – hybrid non-isocyanate polyurethane) is a “hybrid” material that combines the high chemical resistance properties of epoxy and advanced durability and wear resistance properties of polyurethane, making it the perfect coating application for sanitary, high traffic and corrosive surface areas. Green Polyurethane™ provides the foundation of the TRUE Green Poly™ line of commercial floor coatings and paint.
As a hybrid material with superior properties, Green Polyurethane™ can be applied in one or two coatings, providing a welcome cost-saving substitute to currently used multi-layered coating applications. Its safety features allow it to be applied without the interruption of business due to public exposure, creating an additional 30-60% savings on application costs for customers. As a foam, Green Polyurethane™ provides high R values up to 6.0, energy savings up to 30% and improved tensile strength over conventional foam without using dangerous isocyanates.
Recent Anti-Isocyanate Regulatory Pressure
US EPA MDI Action Plan: The US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is taking progressive action to regulate and potentially ban isocyanates and has mentioned Hybrid’s technology as an alternative to toxic polyurethane in its MDI Action Plan against isocyanates (see page 4 Figovsky and Shapovalov).
OSHA National Emphasis Program: On June 25, 2013 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a division of the US Department of Labor, initiated a National Emphasis Program to protect workers from the serious health effects from occupational exposure to isocyanates. Isocyanates are found in polyurethane based products. According to OSHA, “Workers exposed to isocyanates can suffer debilitating health problems for months or even years after exposure which could result in death.”
California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) on March 13, 2014 selected isocyanates and two others substances from a list of 1,100 toxic components that it will focus on with the goal of potentially banning them altogether within the next two years. The announcement is part of a bigger effort to educate consumers and manufacturers about product safety under the Green-Chemistry Law, which went into effect in California last year. Under the law, the agency has jurisdiction to ban these products altogether after following proper protocol. That process includes workshops, a public comment period and requiring manufacturers that want to sell these products in California to determine whether it would be feasible to use safer ingredients.
The US EPA on January 8, 2015 announced that it was taking action to protect consumers from new uses and imports of harmful isocyanates in polyurethane. The EPA’s proposed action, a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), would require manufacturers (including importers) to notify the EPA at least 90 days before starting or resuming new uses of isocyanates in polyurethane based consumer products. The EPA would then have the opportunity to evaluate the intended use of and if necessary, to take action to prohibit or limit all products containing over one tenth of one percent of the chemical including imported products that make their way into the United States.
Industrial Finishes & Systems is proud to be the exclusive distributor for TRUE Green Poly™, the first and only isocyanate-free architectural floor and wall coatings. For more information, contact Industrial Finishes & Systems.