Four-year follow-up of effects of toluene diisocyanate exposure on the respiratory system in polyurethane foam manufacturing workers - II. Four-year changes in the effects on the respiratory system

Kazuyuki Omae, Toshiaki Higashi, Toshio Nakadate, Shoichiro Tsugane, Masahiro Nakaza, Haruhiko Sakurai

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Fifty-seven polyurethane foam manufacturing workers (PF workers) and 24 reference workers were followed for 4 years to clarify the effects on pulmonary function of working in PF factories with exposure to toluene diisocyanate (TDI). No significant differences in the average annual losses (AALs) of pulmonary function for 4 years were observed among the 28PF workers whose TDI exposure levels were very low (mean= 0.1 ppb, group L), the remaining 29 PF workers with mean TDI exposure of 5.7 ppb (group H), and the reference workers. However, 15 PF workers in group H who had experienced peak exposure excursions to 30 ppb or above with a mean concentration of 8.2 ppb showed significantly larger AALs in percentage maximal mid-expiratory flow, forced expiratory volume in 1 s ratio to vital capacity (FVC), and forced expiratory flow at 25% of FVC than expected, and significantly larger AALs in some obstructive pulmonary function indices than those of the 14 remaining PF workers in group H whose peak exposure excursion levels were 3-14 ppb with a mean time-weighted average (TWA) of 1.7 ppb, group L, and the reference workers. These findings suggest that the peak exposure excursion level of TDI might be important in inducing obstructive pulmonary function changes in the PF workers rather than the TWA exposure levels, though further comparative studies of the AAL in those who are exposed to different peak exposure excursion levels but the same mean exposure levels are necessary. From the standpoint of prevention, the proposition that peak exposure excursion levels exceeding 20 ppb should be avoided is reasonable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-569
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1992 Apr 1



  • Cohort study
  • Peak exposure
  • Polyurethane foam
  • Pulmonary function
  • Toluene diisocyanate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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