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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1992 Jun;89(6):1183-8.

Occupational asthma caused by a prepolymer but not the monomer of toluene diisocyanate (TDI).

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Department of Chest Medicine, Sacré-Coeur Hospital, Montreal, Canada.


Isocyanates are the most common cause of occupational asthma. Isocyanate monomers and prepolymers are widely used in the manufacture of polyurethane compounds. However, prepolymers are generating increasing interest because of their lower volatility. No distinction has yet been made between asthmatic reactions caused by the monomers and the prepolymers of isocyanates, and asthmatic reactions caused by one type of isocyanate but not the other type have not been reported. We describe two wood-roof maintenance workers who developed asthma after being exposed to a varnish containing a prepolymer of toluene diisocyanate (TDI) with only small amounts of the monomer. Specific inhalation-challenge tests with the TDI monomer did not elicit significant airway obstruction, whereas exposure to the varnish and to the purified TDI prepolymer induced late asthmatic reactions. Specific antibodies against TDI monomer human serum albumin and TDI prepolymer human serum albumin conjugates could not be demonstrated. These observations demonstrate that isocyanate prepolymers can cause occupational asthma and that asthmatic reactions caused by isocyanate prepolymers, but not to the corresponding monomer, can occur in some exposed workers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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