Isocyanate-Containing Paints - A Guide to Spraying

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					                                ARCHIVE                                                                                                           ARCHIVE
Do I need health                                        What are my employer’s
checks?                                                 responsibilities?
If you are spraying with polyurethane paints, yes.      Your employer must:
                                                                                                                                     A Guide
• Ask your employer to arrange for you to have a
    medical check-up at his/her expense before you
                                                        • instruct workers on the hazards of working with
                                                           isocyanate-containing paints and how to use
                                                                                                                                     to Spraying
    start work with isocyanates. This should cover         them safely;
    lung function tests and review any chest prob-      • provide all the necessary safety equipment.                                ISOCYANATE-
    lems you may already have.
• The lung function tests should be repeated after
    3 months and then at least annually to safeguard
                                                        What are my                                                                  CONTAINING
                                                        responsibilities?
    your health.
• Ask for more frequent checks if you experience:       You have a duty to use all the safety gear your
                                                                                                                                     Paints
    — a cough (day or night) which lasts more than      employer provides. You owe it to yourself to protect
    a month;                                            your health — and the job you have spent years
    — a chest illness. which keeps you off work         learning.
    more than 2 weeks.
                                                                                                                   Air line filter

What about first
aid?
You should know the first aid measures to take in an
emergency.
• Coughing and breathing difficulties
   — get the worker into fresh air;
   — call a doctor.
• Eye contact
   — irrigate with running water;
   — continue for at least 15 minutes;
   — obtain medical attention if irritation persists.
                                                          Important Note:
• Skin contact                                            All the publications in the Publications Archive contain the best
   — wash off with soap and water;                        guidance available at the time of publishing. However, you should
                                                          consider the effect of any changes to the law since then. You
   — do not use solvents.                                 should also check that any Standards referred to are still current.

                                                                                                                                       DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
                                                                                                                                       NEW ZEALAND
                                                                                       1988
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About this                                              What are the health                                     How can I protect
pamphlet                                                hazards?                                                myself?
If you are a spray painter, you need to understand      If isocyanate-containing paints are used incorrectly    The essential safety measures are:
the health risks involved in spraying polyurethane      they can affect you in these ways:                      • Wear a compressed air fed respirator mask or
paints.                                                 • Breathing the aerosol — irritation of the nose,          hood with eye protection whenever spraying
       You will probably be familiar with the two-           throat and lungs occurs either immediately on         isocyanate-containing paints.
pack mixes of polyurethane paints and possibly also          exposure or, more often, later, causing a dry       • Make sure the air inlet supply is taken from
the one-pack moisture-cured mixes. These are                 throat, coughing, chest tightness and/or asthma.      uncontaminated air and is suitably filtered to
widely used in the automotive and other industries      • Eye contact —irritation; may cause severe                remove oil mist, dust and water. Also check that
because of their excellent gloss, hardness, adhesion         chemical conjunctivitis.                              the visor is clean and the air valves work before
and chemical resistance.                                • Skin contact — mild irritation; can lead to              starting spraying. Wear suitable protective
       This group of paints contains small quantities        dermatitis.                                           clothing and gloves.
of chemicals known as isocyanates, which are very              Some people become ‘sensitised’ to               • An air movement as prescribed by the Code of
dangerous to health. The major hazard is breathing      isocyanates after inhaling the vapour. This can            Practice for the Safe Use of Isocyanates is
the fine mist or aerosol droplets of the paint during   happen after a single exposure or after exposure to        required in the operator’s breathing zone unless
spraying and absorbing the liquid isocyanate into       isocyanates over many years.                               the occupier can prove that the injurious fumes
your lungs.                                                    Sensitised workers experience asthma-type           are removed by the booth’s existing ventilation
       If, however, isocyanate-containing paint is      symptoms whenever they are exposed to free                 system and do not exceed the TLV.
applied by brush, roller or dipping, in a cool, well-   isocyanates. There is no cure for this condition, and   • Do not smoke.
ventilated area; there is generally no more hazard      a sensitised person has to give up working with                                          Air hose respirator
than with ordinary paints. These methods usually do     isocyanates permanently.
not produce a dangerous concentration of
isocyanate vapour.                                      What is a safe exposure?
       Mixing the two-pack paints is generally a safe
operation provided you do it, in a well-ventilated      The maximum concentration of isocyanates you
place and take care in removing the lids.               may be exposed to is set by the Occupational Health
       After, curing, polyurethane paints contain no    Advisory Committee at 70 micrograms/m3
isocyanates and are not harmful under normal            expressed as NCO. This is known as the Threshold
conditions of use.                                      Limit Value or TLV for isocyanates. Some people,
       This pamphlet explains the health hazards of     however, can be sensitised at concentrations much
isocyanate-containing paints and how you can            lower than this.
protect yourself while spraying with them.