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Wood adhesive producers keeping it green and safe

By Louis Iannaco

Volume 26/Number 24; April 15/22, 2013

Taylor says its MS-Plus Advance wood flooring adhesive is a higher performance, safer alternative to urethane wood adhesives.

When it comes to developing the safest, most effective products possible, wood glue manufacturers have been meticulous in creating adhesives that are both effective and environmentally safe for both the installer and homeowner.

According to Dri-Tac’s vice president of technology, Steve Lontchar, the most well-known VOC regulation is California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (SCAQ-MD) VOC Rule 1168 for Adhesive and Sealant applications, which some experts believe is “long overdue for both review and subsequent revision.

“However,” he explained, “this has long been the standard VOC rule for adhesive and sealant products and is referenced in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, as well as other green building systems and codes. Therefore, any revisions must and will be carefully considered and deliberated, as they will undoubtedly have long-lasting impacts on how wood flooring adhesive systems are designed and developed in the future.”

Revisions of this nature “could also influence VOC compliance rules and regulations with other regulatory bodies and agencies,” said Lontchar.

Jack Raidy, president and CEO of W.F. Taylor, said the firm has long recognized the need for low VOC, environmentally favorable wood flooring adhesives, “especially with the historical acceptance of moisture cure urethanes, which have high VOC levels, as well as known hazardous ingredients, i.e. proven respiratory irritant isocyanate compounds.

He noted the EPA as well as state regulators such as California’s Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) are in the process of enacting regulations that will once again affect the way flooring adhesive producers formulate their products.

Recently, through its Action Plan on Methylene Diphenyl Diisocyanate (MDI) and Toluene Diisocyanate (TDI), the EPA has focused on isocyanates in consumer products. The published MDI Action Plan states, in part: “This plan focuses on the potential health effects that may result from exposures to the consumer or self-employed worker while using products containing uncured (unreacted) diisocyanates (e.g., spray applied foam sealants, adhesives and coatings) or incidental exposures to the general population as such products are used in or around buildings including homes or schools.”

California’s DTSC is in the last phases of enacting the “Safer Consumer Products Regulations,” which will focus on chemicals to which consumers are exposed. “It is in final stages of compiling a list of chemicals of concern,” said Raidy, “some of which are used in wood flooring adhesives.”

Earlier this month, at the Bolger Conference Center in Potomac, Md., a conference was held focusing on isocyanates. The purpose of this multidisciplinary international gathering was to identify and discuss the latest knowledge and important issues on the health effects of isocyanates. The conference brought together leading scientific experts, regulators, clinicians, and industry and worker stakeholders from around the world to present and discuss the current state of isocyanates.

According to Raidy, at the end of the conference the general consensus was, in order to minimize exposure, users of products containing isocyanates need to protect themselves by wearing appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE). “These PPEs are easily obtainable in an industrial factory setting where OSHA rules apply. But in a consumer setting, users are not inclined to wear the protective equipment, resulting in increased risk of exposure.

“It therefore behooves the flooring adhesive industry to remove these dangerous chemicals before the regulators force the issue,” he said “This is particularly important because a large portion of wood installations are done in occupied homes (replacement jobs) which make potential exposure to families very real.

Fortunately, the flooring adhesive industry offers alternative installation adhesives that do not contain isocyanates.”

For the Action Plan, visit epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/actionplans.

For more on the DTSC, visit dtsc.ca.gov/SCPRegulations.cfm.

For more on isocyanates, visit isocyanates2012.org.