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Isocyanates are liquid or solid aromatic and aliphatic compounds containing the isocyanate group (-NCO) that can off-gas vapours. Isocyanates are the raw materials that form many derivatives products, including polyurethane. Polyurethane polymers are widely to manufacture flexible and rigid foams, thermoplastics, spandex fibres, pesticides, paints and varnishes. Isocynates are also used in many components of the automobile industry, auto body repair as well as in building insulation materials. Exposure to isocyanates usually occurs through inhalation of isocyanate vapours or mists created as part of a process, during thermal degradation of polyurethane products or during the application of sprayed applied polyurethane foam insulation.
Isocyanates are not absorbed through the skin but contact may cause irritation. Inhalation of isocyanates can cause an irritantation of the respiratory tract, asthma-like symptoms, such as chest tightness, cough, wheeze and shortness of breath. These symptoms may occur up to several hours after cessation of exposure. Chronic exposure can cause liver and kidney dysfunction.
         Regulatory Requirements 
Currently, there are no regulations pertaining to isocyanates on construction projects. Industrial processes involving isocyanates are regulated under the Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, Regulation 842 as amended by O.Reg. 108/04, Designated Substance – Coke Oven Emissions. The transport of the waste to the disposal site is controlled by the federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992.