As the construction sealant industry continues to grow, the importance of safety does as well. From holding regular safety meetings to having hazard control action plans in place, the SWRI has documented various procedures to follow in its Safety and Health Manual.
One important aspect of safety that often gets overlooked, however, is product safety. Below are some safety considerations to make prior to choosing a construction sealant product:
Does the Sealant Product Emit Little to No VOCs?
Many paints and coatings emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are chemicals that evaporate into the air at room temperature. VOCs impact air quality and can lead to short and long-term adverse health effects. As a result, using a product with little to no VOCs is important. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs can cause the following symptoms:
- Irritation of the ears, nose and throat
- Loss of coordination/dizziness
- Allergic skin reaction
Does the Sealant Product Decrease Exposure to Solvents?
Using products that have little to no VOCs also decreases installers’ exposure to solvents, due to their formulation. The U.S. Department of Labor cites health hazards associated with solvent exposure. These include:
- Toxicity to the nervous system
- Reproductive, liver and kidney damage
- Respiratory impairment
Does the Sealant Product Contain TDI?
Toluene Diisocynate (TDI) is commonly used as a chemical intermediate in polyurethane products. TDI has extreme toxicity from acute and chronic exposure. Side effects for workers include:
- Skin, eyes and nose irritation
- Decreased lung function
- Bronchial Constriction
Due to these health hazards associated with VOCs, solvent exposure and TDI, it is important to consider product formulations prior to use.
Bostik offers the following safe sealant products:
- Pro-MS 50: This multipurpose sealant is commonly used as perimeter sealing for windows, doors and other wall penetrations. It has low VOCs and contains no solvents in its formulation. Additionally, Pro-MS 50 is free of TDI.
By being a low VOC product, Pro-MS 50 also has a higher solids content. This means the shrinkage potential that can affect cured product performance is greatly reduced.
- 915: This Miami-Dade Product Control Approved product is used for sheet metal, gutter and roof bonding. With the ability to adhere to Kynar® resin-based coatings, it is a high performance polyurethane that is not formulated with TDI.
Instead, 915 is formulated with methylenediphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), which is the least hazardous of the commonly available isocyanates.
However, some installers may be sensitive to handling isocyanates and sealant products in general. As a result, it is important to wear personal protective equipment to ensure safety during use. Additionally, Safety Data Sheets should be consulted for product safety specifics and for safety beyond product handling.