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Julianne Ogden

A Commitment to Accident Prevention

Diisocyanate manufacturers have been producing and transporting diisocyanates to their customers for many years. DII Panel member companies stress safe material handling—whether at their own sites or working with customers. DII producers are also committed to accident prevention and emergency preparedness.

Effective emergency response to an accident begins with planning and preparation. CHEMTREC® is an around-the-clock service available to fire fighters, law enforcement officials and other emergency responders who need immediate critical response information for emergency incidents involving chemicals, hazardous materials and dangerous goods.

In addition, CHEMTREC is a sponsor of TRANSCAERSM (Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response), a voluntary outreach effort in the U.S. that focuses on assisting communities in preparing for and responding to a possible hazardous material transportation incident. TRANSCAER members consist of volunteer representatives from the chemical manufacturing, transportation, distributor, and emergency response industries, as well as the government.

How Does MDI or TDI React If Spilled?

Large quantities of MDI and TDI are routinely transported in a variety of dedicated containers ranging from ships' tanks to plastic drums under applicable transportation safety laws and regulations. In the unlikely event of a spill to the aquatic or soil environments, the MDI or TDI reacts with water to form predominantly insoluble inert polyureas and release carbon dioxide. Of course, if a spill occurs, refer to the applicable U.S. environmental laws and the manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS).

What If an Accident Involving MDI or TDI Occurs?

In the unlikely event of accident involving MDI or TDI such as a spill, emission, or fire, diisocyanates producers are committed to handling the emergency in a manner that minimizes any potential impact to people or the environment. Like other chemicals, incidents involving MDI or TDI require immediate response by trained, knowledgeable personnel. Leave the area immediately and notify the appropriate emergency response personnel. Those persons dealing with emergencies involving MDI or TDI are required by OSHA and others to wear personal protective equipment. The SDS provides information about emergency response procedures. Manage accidents and report an accident in accordance with all local, state and federal regulations.

An additional source of information is also CHEMTREC, which can be reached at 1-800-424-9300. CHEMTREC operators are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Resources for Diisocyanates Emergency Response

Here are some helpful resources from the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI) on ways to prevent and handle emergencies involving MDI or TDI:

Methylene Diphenyl Diisocyanate (MDI)/Polymeric MDI

The Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI) has developed a number of documents to assist with the safe handling and storage of TDI, MDI, and related polyurethane materials, including:

Toluene Diphenyl Diisocyanates (TDI)
  • Working with TDI: What You Should Know
    An easy-to-read, 6-page brochure which describes health effects, first-aid tips, and safe practices when handling TDI. (AX-202, 2012) | (Spanish)
  • Guidelines for Receiving and Unloading TDI
    This 38-page technical guideline provides basic principles to users receiving, unloading and handling TDI and/or various grades. (AX-188, 2014) | (Spanish) | (French)
  • TDI Estimator*
    This software provides a fast and convenient method to estimate MDI emissions from typical process applications and activities.
  • The Risk Management Program and TDI
    A guidance document that discusses the Clean Air Act (CAA), which requires the EPA to promulgate regulations for the prevention and mitigation of accidental releases of extremely hazardous substances. Under Section 112(r) of the CAA, EPA establishes a list of regulated substances, which includes TDI, and thresholds and issued the chemical accident Prevention regulations. Amongst the various requirements of this rule, regulated companies must submit a Risk Management Plan (RMP). (AX-404, 2012)

CPI offers a variety of resources regarding health and safety information for diisocyanates and polyurethanes. Visit CPI’s Products, Resources and Document Library at CPI for a complete list of resources.

Resources for Purchase
  • MDI and TDI: Safety, Health and the Environment: A Source Book and Practical Guide – by D. C. Allport (Editor), D. S. Gilbert (Editor), S. M. Outterside (Editor): MDI and TDI are polymer building blocks used in large quantities and have a variety of applications in industry. MDI and TDI are subject to stringent health and safety regulations. This book covers important topics concerning MDI and TDI and provides comprehensive coverage on the health and environmental science associated with these. Among these topics, accident prevention and emergency response is covered extensively (see pages 62-89 Key Theme 6: Dealing with accidents).
Sample List of TDI/MDI Decontamination Solutions for Contaminated Surfaces

Below is a sample list of neutralization solutions that have been used effectively for decontaminating TDI/MDI liquid residue on surfaces and equipment after a spill. Users must however independently determine appropriate solutions based on their own circumstances and applicable law. No warranties are given and any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose are expressly denied. Neither ACC nor the Panel member companies assume any liability or responsibility for any use, misuse or reliance on any information herein.

Decon SolutionChemical Ingredients
There is at least one vendor (Colorimetric Laboratories Inc. (CLI)) that markets an isocyanate decontamination solution. Contact the manufacturer(s) for product information.Proprietary Ingredients
(an aqueous based biodegradable decontamination solution that is pH adjusted to neutralize toxicity and washes clean with water).
Liquid Laundry Detergent Containing approximately 3% by weight monoethanolamine (MEA)1

Note: These can be found by researching liquid laundry detergents containing MEA
33% Laundry Detergent
(contents: surfactants such as alcohol ethyoxylates; propylene glycol; and a Monoethanolamine (MEA)-sulfonate compound)

67% Water
No Name210% Non-iconic surfactant
(e.g., Tergitol TMN-10; Plurafac SL-62)
90% Water
No Name2

10% Noniconic surfactant
(e.g., Tergitol TMN-10; Plurafac SL-62)
5% ammonium hydroxide (household ammonia)
80% Water

No Name25% n-propanol
20% Tergitol TMN-10
75% Water


1 West, R., Hugel, E. (2013), Refined Solution for Neutralization of Residues in Emptied Diisocyanate Drums, Paper presented at the CPI Polyurethane Technical Conference, Arizona, 23-25 September, 2013.

2 Kiestler, K. (1999). Efficiencies of various formulations of decontamination solutions utilizing toluene diisocyanate. Paper, Innovation for the Next Millenium: API Polyurethanes Expo ‘99Int. Tech. Conf. and Exposition, Orlando, 12-15 Sept.

Note: For surface decontamination, it is common practice to first use an absorbent material (i.e., saw dust, kitty litter) to clean-up the majority of the spilled isocyanate material. Always wear proper PPE when cleaning up an isocyanate spill and using a neutralization solution. It may take two or more applications of the neutralization solution to decontaminate the surface. Check for residual surface contamination using a surface wipe method.

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