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Safe use of diisocyanates

The REACH Regulation (EU) 2020/1149, published on 3 August 2020, incorporates a new restriction for product labeling and training requirement for professional and industrial users to reduce the risk of possible respiratory or skin sensitization due to exposure to diisocyanates, commonly present in some polyurethane products.

What are diisocyanates?

Diisocyanates is a family of chemical building blocks used to make PU materials such as foams, adhesives, coatings, sealants, etc. These chemical compounds are characterized by having two isocyanate functional groups (-N=C=O) as part of their chemical structure and are characterized by their high reactivity to nucleophiles. The best known diisocyanates are methylenebis(phenyl isocyanate) (MDI), toluene diisocyanate (TDI), and hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI).

What are the health risks of diisocyanates?

Diisocyanates are recognized as a Category 1 respiratory sensitizers (according to REGULATION (EC) 1272/2008), which are capable of inducing occupational asthma in previously unsensitized persons and violently increasing asthma symptoms in those already sensitized, there being no safe concentration level in these cases. As an acute effect, isocyanate vapors and aerosols can produce irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, tearing, sensation of pressure, burning sensation in the trachea or respiratory difficulties like those of asthma. They also may cause skin irritation and can lead to skin sensitization with associated dermatitis.

What is new in the REACH Regulation (EU) 2020/1149?

European authorities adopted a new restriction for diisocyanates under the REACH legislation. This restriction is intended to prevent the unsafe handling of diisocyanates, but it does not restrict the availability of the products in the market.

Which Elevate products contain diisocyanates?

The following Elevate products contain a certain quantity of diisocyanates (more than 0.1%) and therefore fall under the new REACH Regulation (EU) 2020/1149: I.S.O. Twin Pack Insulation Adhesive and Pourable Sealer S-10. 

Which implications does the new regulation have in the use of these Elevate products?

Placing products on the market that contain more than 0.1% diisocyanates is allowed, but it implies changes in the product label of the affected products to clearly state the presence of diisocyanates. The new regulation also states that, as of 24 August 2023, all professionals and industrial users need to follow adequate training before the industrial or professional use of these products.

Who will be required to undergo training on the safe use of diisocyanates?

Training in the safe use of diisocyanates is indicated for all employees and self-employed workers who handle the affected Elevate products or any other product containing diisocyanates as such, or as components of other substances or in mixtures for industrial or professional uses or who supervise such tasks. By handling, we understand all tasks involving the handling of open containers or the application of a product.

Who provides this training?

The training will be carried out by an occupational health and safety expert who has acquired the corresponding competence through relevant vocational training. In order to facilitate and speed up the delivery of this training to workers, the European Adhesives and Sealants Industry Association (FEICA), in coordination with the European isocyanate producer associations ISOPA and ALIPA, have created the online training platform On this platform it is also possible to purchase the training material for organizations wishing to provide the training in person.

Regarding the above-mentioned Elevate products, the minimum requirement is to follow the e-learning module 049 (Adhesives and sealants: Professional application / Flooring and waterproofing applications) that can be found on The training is available in multiple languages and comes at a (minor) cost. The e-learning module 049 takes about 40 minutes and to complete you need to successfully pass a questionnaire. The delivered certificate has a validity of 5 years.