Isocyanate and VOC exposure analysis using Flexane®.
ABSTRACT Flexane® 80 is a trowelable urethane product used in combination with cleaners and primers to effect rubber conveyor belt repairs. These products are of concern due to the potential for worker exposure to isocyanates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Small chamber experiments were used to identify chemicals liberated to the ambient air from each of the Flexane®-related products. A new sample collection method using treated cotton sleeves as a surrogate skin surface to assess potential dermal exposure to isocyanates during mixing and application of the Flexane® product was validated. Six simulations of a worst case scenario were performed by an experienced belt repair technician in a walk-in laboratory exposure chamber. Analysis of air samples from the large chamber simulations did not detect airborne isocyanates. The average airborne VOC concentrations were below established occupational exposure levels. Dermal sleeve samples detected intermittent and low levels of isocyanates from self-application while wearing gloves having surface residues of uncured Flexane®. The data strongly suggest that the normal and intended use of Flexane® putty, and its associated products under worst case or typical working conditions is not likely to result in worker VOC or isocyanate exposure levels sufficient to produce adverse health effects.