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REACH regulation: safe use of polyurethanes in industry

 As a specialist in the manufacture of solutions for the application of polyurethane (PU) adhesives and sealants, Meler encourages its clients to obtain the European certification that guarantees their safe use in industry and to discover the new PUR formulations with reduced concentrations of diisocyanates (<0.1%).

On the 4th of August 2020, in the Official Journal of the European Union, a restriction on the use of diisocyanates was published as a health and environmental protection measure.

What are diisocyanates?

Polyurethane adhesives and sealants are the result of a chemical reaction between a diisocyanate and polyol; when they are mixed, they create the polymer that guarantees a high-performance bond: polyurethane.

Products that contain polyurethanes are present around us every day, in the filling of our sofa or in the interior of our vehicle, for example, and their use is totally safe in finished products. However, their handling during the manufacturing phase involves potential risks which must be assumed by occupational risk prevention departments of businesses. We are referring to respiratory and skin sensitisation which a person may experience after exposure to the diisocyanates produced during this chemical reaction.
This is the main reason for which the new regulation requires personnel to be trained before handling it.

Chemical reaction

The race to obtain sustainable PUR adhesives

The European restriction has served to spur on innovation projects of the main manufacturers of PUR adhesives, whose formulations with micro emissions of volatile components (adhesives with a concentration of <0.1% monomeric diisocyanates) are already available on the market.

Rakoll® 5010 or 4020, adhesives designed by H.B. Fuller for the wood sector, Jowatherm-Reaktant® MR by Jowat and Technomelt PUR by Henkel are just some examples of new hot melt adhesives considered sustainable, because in addition to being safer in the work environment, they offer a reduced carbon footprint as they are applied at a lower temperature and require lower energy consumption.

The REACH restriction in detail

“Registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemical substances” (REACH) is the key EU regulation for chemical products manufactured in or imported to the EU, the objective of which is to guarantee occupational safety during the use of chemical products.

The main associations of manufacturers of diisocyanates ISOPA, ALIPA and FEICA have launched the digital e-learning platform: Safe Use of Diisocyanates on which all necessary information is provided, as well as the key dates for companies to comply with the new legislation.

How to obtain the certification

The certification must be renewed after 5 years, and is provided for obligatory completion by the continuous training departments of all European companies at which polyurethane adhesives or sealants are used, provided that the legal level of emissions considered potentially harmful is exceeded (>0.1%).

In the coming months, the platform will be updated to offer comprehensive content in all official languages of the EU. In May, Meler clients in Germany, Spain, Italy and France will be able to begin the process of obtaining their certification.

The Meler team encourages you to obtain your certification or to request more information on PUR adhesives with a reduced monomer content, so that together we can continue guaranteeing a safe future for polyurethane products.

Consult all Meler’s information on hot melt adhesives here.


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