HSE Science and Research Centre places cookies on your computer to improve our website. These cookies don't collect information that identifies a visitor and are all anonymous. They are used to measure its performance and to provide enhancements to you while using the site.
Mobile Nav Mobile Basket

You are not logged in

Free email notifications

Case Study

Skin absorption of isocyanates: Use of MDI adhesive

The Problem

During the manufacture of industrial flooring, chipboard panels were coated with isocyanate-based adhesive (MDI, methyl diphenyl diisocyanate) before metal facing plates were manually attached to either side.  The panel was then mechanically crimped prior to be taken manually off the production line for storage.  The workers were wearing leather gloves, primarily for protection against physical injury during the manual tasks.  Urine samples showed that body burdens for MDI substantially exceeded the UK guidance value in a number of workers.

What We Did

We looked at the correlation between airborne MDI and levels found in urine.  This showed that the urine samples indicated substantially more MDI exposure than expected from the measured air levels.

In light of this, and the nature of the handling tasks within the process, we suspected that skin exposure could be contributing to the overall body burden.  The glove regime was reviewed and it was decided to replace the leather gloves with polyester gloves with a polyurethane palm.  These would provide chemical protection and, being cheaper, could be changed more frequently.



Following the intervention, body burdens were significantly reduced, with all workers tested showing lower levels in urine.  Whereas three-quarters of the workers exceeded the biological monitoring guidance value before the intervention, only a quarter still exceeded it (marginally) afterwards.  The airborne levels of MDI remained similar after the intervention, indicating that dermal contact had been the primary source of exposure.

A straightforward improvement in the glove regime markedly reduced worker exposure to a potent skin and respiratory sensitiser thus reducing the likelihood of future ill-health.


With thanks to Aspen Environmental

Back to Case Studies

Back to the top

Related Information

Downloadable pdf's of case studies

To discuss any of these topics please contact us by email:

or by using our online contact form.

Alternatively you may wish to contact the relevant Sector Manager.