Residual Isocyanates in Medical Devices and Products: A Qualitative and Quantitative Assessment

Environ Health Insights. 2016 Oct 13;10:175-190. doi: 10.4137/EHI.S39149. eCollection 2016.


We conducted a pilot qualitative and quantitative assessment of residual isocyanates and their potential initial exposures in neonates, as little is known about their contact effect. After a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stockroom inventory, polyurethane (PU) and PU foam (PUF) devices and products were qualitatively evaluated for residual isocyanates using Surface SWYPE™. Those containing isocyanates were quantitatively tested for methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) species, using UPLC-UV-MS/MS method. Ten of 37 products and devices tested, indicated both free and bound residual surface isocyanates; PU/PUF pieces contained aromatic isocyanates; one product contained aliphatic isocyanates. Overall, quantified mean MDI concentrations were low (4,4'-MDI = 0.52 to 140.1 pg/mg) and (2,4'-MDI = 0.01 to 4.48 pg/mg). The 4,4'-MDI species had the highest measured concentration (280 pg/mg). Commonly used medical devices/products contain low, but measurable concentrations of residual isocyanates. Quantifying other isocyanate species and neonatal skin exposure to isocyanates from these devices and products requires further investigation.

Keywords: asthma; isocyanates; medical devices and products; methylene diphenyl diisocyanate; neonatal exposure; skin sensitization.