Johanna Katz is a Cornell Iscoll intern at EDF. Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.
Toxic chemicals called diisocyanates are long-established as occupational hazards known to cause severe respiratory problems to workers who use or are otherwise exposed to them (see here). In fact, diisocyanates are the number one cause of workplace-induced asthma (see here and here). Recently, potential exposure of the general public to diisocyanates has grown, as these chemicals are increasingly used in consumer products. This is certainly a troubling trend considering that the primary health effect of these chemicals, asthma, is a massive and growing public health problem, especially among children. And some of the newest uses of diisocyanates are in products to which children are quite likely to be exposed.
Asthma is at an all-time high, affecting more than 24 million Americans, and creating astronomical health and productivity costs upwards of $20 BILLION each year. And while diisocyanates are but one of many contributors to the increasing rate of asthma in the general population, we surely don’t need to be bringing more products containing such chemicals into our homes, schools, and workplaces. That will only make matters worse.
So what exactly are diisocyanate chemicals, where are they found, and what’s the federal government trying to do about them? Read on to find out. Read More