Isocyanates and Amines – Sampling and Analytical Procedures

University dissertation from Stockholm : Institutionen för analytisk kemi

Abstract: This thesis covers sampling and analytical procedures for isocyanates (R-NCO) and amines (R-NH2), two kinds of chemicals frequently used in association with the polymeric material polyurethane (PUR). Exposure to isocyanates may result in respiratory disorders and dermal sensitisation, and they are one of the main causes of occupational asthma. Several of the aromatic diamines associated with PUR production are classified as suspected carcinogens. Hence, the presence of these chemicals in different exposure situations must be monitored. In the context of determining isocyanates in air, the methodologies included derivatisation with the reagent di-n-butylamine (DBA) upon collection and subsequent determination using liquid chromatography (LC) and mass spectrometric detection (MS). A user-friendly solvent-free sampler for collection of airborne isocyanates was developed as an alternative to a more cumbersome impinger-filter sampling technique. The combination of the DBA reagent together with MS detection techniques revealed several new exposure situations for isocyanates, such as isocyanic acid during thermal degradation of PUR and urea-based resins. Further, a method for characterising isocyanates in technical products used in the production of PUR was developed. This enabled determination of isocyanates in air for which pure analytical standards are missing. Tandem MS (MS/MS) determination of isocyanates in air below 10-6 of the threshold limit values was achieved.As for the determination of amines, the analytical methods included derivatisation into pentafluoropropionic amide or ethyl carbamate ester derivatives and subsequent MS analysis. Several amines in biological fluids, as markers of exposure for either the amines themselves or the corresponding isocyanates, were determined by LC-MS/MS at amol level. In aqueous extraction solutions of flexible PUR foam products, toluene diamine and related compounds were found. In conclusion, this thesis demonstrates the usefulness of well characterised analytical procedures and techniques for determination of hazardous compounds. Without reliable and robust methodologies there is a risk that exposure levels will be underestimated or, even worse, that relevant compounds will be completely missed.