Virtual Spray Booth
Isocyanate Alert

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When you spray certain coating products that contain a hardener, you can be exposed to isocyanates. Isocyanates are hardeners that are usually added to clear coats, primers, enamel coatings, and in some cases basecoats. They are reactive chemicals that provide coatings with their quick drying properties and durability. The specific types of isocyanates used in refinish hardeners can vary from one paint supplier to another. Consult the product MSDS for the hardener you are using.

Because isocyanates are highly reactive, you can become very sick from exposure to isocyanate through inhalation.

" Lungs-chronic or short-term breathing problems, occupational asthma, hypersensitivity
" Skin-irritation, rashes, blistering, and reddening
" Eyes-eye irritation, tears, temporary loss of sharpness of vision
" Nervous system-feeling of drunkenness, numbness, and loss of balance.

As a result, most jurisdictions in Canada regulate the use of isocyanates.

For example, in Ontario, isocyanates are regulated by Designated Substance - Isocyanates R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 842 (as amended by: O. Reg. 518/92; 108/04). Collision repair facilities are subject to the requirements of this regulation.

Read all of the information on the supplier MSDS and make sure you follow all instructions.

Exposure must be minimized by adequate local and general ventilation in spray booths and paint mixing rooms, combined with best working practices, and the use of proper personal equipment. For example, proper NIOSH approved respirators as specified by supplier MSDS or local codes or regulations must be used when handling or spraying. Full coveralls must be worn for skin protection, splash proof face shields or goggles to protect eyes, and long-sleeve, impervious gloves (synthetic or natural rubber, PVC, or nitrile are specified) to protect hands.


1. Employers shall obtain the material safety data sheets from suppliers for all the isocyanate materials used in the shop.

2. All spraying with materials containing isocyanates shall be done inside a booth designed for paint spraying and equipped with adequate mechanical ventilation. Body filling with materials containing isocyanate should also be done inside the booth whenever practical. If body filling is done outside the booth it should be done in a well-ventilated area. The booth fan should be left running after spraying has ended until all over-spray has been removed. Only this is it safe to remove the respirator.

3. While spraying, the worker must always wear a NIOSH Type C air line respirator with a full face-piece or hood operated in positive pressure mode or a self-contained breathing apparatus with a full face-piece operated in positive pressure mode. Half-mask air supplied respirators, even if operated in positive pressure mode, organic vapor cartridge respirators and all types of air supplied respirators operated in demand mode do not provide adequate protection and must not be used.

4. The air supply system must be suitable for supplying breathing air and must provide sufficient capacity to maintain a positive pressure and required flow in each respirator and hood.

5. Air supplied to respirators must be taken from a clean air area. If there is any doubt regarding the quality of the air, it should be tested. If compressed air is used it must meet the CSA standard for compressed air (CSA Standard Z180.1-M1978)

6. Isocyanate materials should be handled in a well-ventilated area and the worker shall wear eye protection such as safety glasses, splash goggles, face shield or full-face respirator or hood. Workers must also use gloves and should use coveralls or clothing that helps prevent isocyanate contact with the skin.

7. If hardener gets in the eyes, flush with clean, lukewarm, low-pressure water for 15 minutes, occasionally lifting the eyelids. Obtain medical attention immediately.

8. If hardener gets on the skin, wash the affected area with soap and water and, if possible, rub with half-and-half mixture of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and water. Do not use this mixture to flush the eyes! Remove contaminated clothing immediately.

9. In case of inhalation, move close to a clean air area and obtain medical help immediately.

10. In case on ingestion, give lots of water or milk. Get medical attention immediately. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING.

11. The ventilation equipment such as booth fan and filters shall be maintained and operated in such a manner that the face velocity and ventilation rates in the booth meet booth specifications.

12. Spills may be neutralized by covering with an absorbent material such as sawdust or vermiculite and soaked for several hours with a mixture of 9 parts water and 1 part isopropyl alcohol. Then disposal can be carried out. Water alone can be used but it takes longer to neutralize the isocyanate.

13. Do not wear contaminated clothing even if it is dry. Decontaminate clothing by soaking it in a mixture of 9 parts water and 1 part isopropyl alcohol and some liquid detergent. Contaminated equipment, including respirators, should be thoroughly decontaminated with the same mixture. Water alone can be used but it takes longer to neutralize the isocyanates.

14. All workers working with isocyanate materials should be under the supervision of a doctor who should be familiar with isocyanates. The health of workers must be monitored as indicated in the medical surveillance program specified in the isocyanates regulation.

More information on the potential effects of isocyanates and safe handling practices can be obtained from the following:

The effects of isocyanates on your health:

Isocyanates in the Workplace

Preventing Asthma and Death from Diisocyanate Exposure

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We do not guarantee the correctness or accuracy of the information, and will not be responsible for incorrect or inaccurate information, or any damage or loss suffered by any person as a result of reliance on such information.

The information presented relates to environmental programs of the Federal government. Regulations, and rulings, of local governments may apply in lieu of, or in addition to, the Federal rules, and should be reviewed before taking any action in reliance on this information.