Measurements of airborne methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) concentration in the U.S. workplace

J Occup Environ Hyg. 2009 Apr;6(4):228-38. doi: 10.1080/15459620902724060.


This article summarizes a large body of industry air sampling data (8134 samples) in which airborne MDI concentrations were measured in a wide variety of manufacturing processes that use either polymeric MDI (PMDI) or monomeric (pure) MDI. Data were collected during the period 1984 through 1999. A total of 606 surveys were conducted for 251 companies at 317 facilities. The database includes 3583 personal (breathing zone) samples and 4551 area samples. Data demonstrate that workplace airborne MDI concentrations are extremely low in a majority of the manufacturing operations. Most (74.6%) of the airborne MDI concentrations measured in the personal samples were nondetectable, i.e., below the limits of quantification (LOQs). A variety of validated industrial hygiene sampling/analytical methods were used for data collection; most are modifications of OSHA Method 47. The LOQs for these methods ranged from 0.1-0.5 microg/sample. The very low vapor pressures of both monomeric MDI and PMDI largely explain the low airborne concentrations found in most operations. However, processes or applications in which the chemical is sprayed or heated may result in higher airborne concentrations and higher exposure potentials if appropriate control measures are not implemented. Data presented in this article will be a useful reference for employers in helping them to manage their health and safety program as it relates to respiratory protection during MDI/PMDI applications.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Isocyanates / analysis*
  • Isocyanates / chemistry
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Polyurethanes / analysis
  • Polyurethanes / chemistry
  • Threshold Limit Values
  • United States
  • Workplace


  • Isocyanates
  • Polyurethanes
  • polymeric 4,4'-diphenylmethane diisocyanate
  • 4,4'-diphenylmethane diisocyanate