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Cross-Sectional Survey of Workers Exposed to Aliphatic Diisocyanates Using Detailed Respiratory Medical History and Questions Regarding Accidental Skin and Respiratory Exposures

Hathaway, James A. MD, MPH; Molenaar, Donald M. MD, MPH; Cassidy, Laura D. PhD, MS; Feeley, Timothy M. MS; Cummings, Barbara J. MS

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 1 - p 52–57
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000019
Original Articles

Objectives: To identify possible cases of occupational asthma and assess accidental skin and inhalation exposures to aliphatic diisocyanates.

Methods: Seventy-three employees from two plants, manufacturing or producing aliphatic diisocyanates, were surveyed using a detailed respiratory history questionnaire with additional questions on accidental skin and inhalation exposures. Further reviews of medical records and interviews were used to determine whether any of 15 employees with questionable responses had developed occupational asthma.

Results: No cases of occupational asthma were identified. Nevertheless, many employees reported occasional accidental unprotected skin exposures and/or detecting the odor of 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate or isophorone diisocyanate.

Conclusions: Consistent with a previous study, no cases of occupational asthma were identified from exposure to 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate, isophorone diisocyanate, methylene bis(4-cyclohexyl isocyanate), or their polyisocyanates even though many employees reported detection of odors (93%) or skin exposures (53%).

From Occupational Medicine Consultant (Dr Hathaway), Kendall Park, NJ; VA Medical Center (Dr Molenaar), Minneapolis, Minn; Medical College of Wisconsin (Dr Cassidy), Milwaukee, Wis; and Bayer Material Science (Mr Feeley and Ms Cummings), Pittsburgh, Pa.

Address correspondence to: James A. Hathaway, MD, MPH, Occupational Medicine Consultant, PO Box 97, Kendall Park, NJ 08824 (

The study was partially funded by the Aliphatics Diisocyanate Panel of the American Chemistry Council whose members include Bayer Material Science, Vencorex USA Inc and Evonik/Degussa. The two companies participating in the study are Bayer Material Science and Vencorex USA Inc (previously owned by Perstorp, Inc).

Dr Hathaway is a paid consultant to Vencorex USA Inc. Dr Molenaar was formerly a full-time employee of Bayer Business and Technology Services. Dr Cassidy is a paid consultant to the Aliphatics Diisocyanate Panel of the American Chemistry Council. Mr Feeley and Ms Cummings are full-time employees of Bayer Material Science. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2014 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine