Polyurethane, one of the most extensively used synthetic polymers globally, finds its application not only in Sika’s adhesives but also in numerous other conventional products that we use in our daily lives. Whether it's mattresses, shoes, textiles, or medical instruments, polyurethane has become an all-pervasive material.
The Polyurethane Curing Process Explained
Polyurethane adhesives and sealants, whether one-component or two-component, undergo a curing process to change from a liquid to a solid state. This reaction involves crosslinking of polymers with isocyanate groups, resulting in the formation of a unique polyurethane polymer compound. During the application of such products, users may be exposed to minimal amounts of unreacted monomeric diisocyanates used in the production of pre-polymers.
Similarly, all polyurethane-based products follow these types of reactions to form the final compounds. Once fully cured, the reactive chemicals are eliminated, leaving behind high-performance compounds free of any reactive chemicals.
Reach Regulation for Use of Diisocynates
In August 2020, the European Union put in force a new REACH restriction on the use of products containing more than 0.1% of monomeric diisocyanates. These new rules will also apply to products such as polyurethane adhesives, sealants, coatings, or injections used in industrial production and construction work. The goal of this restriction is to reduce the health risks associated with diisocyanates by ensuring that the workers who will be handling these substances are adequately informed and trained. Many users of polyurethanes in Europe will have to take part in specific worker health and safety trainings in order to continue using these materials. The trainings are created with the aim to enhance occupational health and safety of workers.
Employers are responsible for ensuring employees are trained by August 24, 2023.
Free PU Training Access
By following the link below, you can receive training and certification for the safe handling of diisocyanates according to the legal training requirements of the REACH regulation.The web-based training platform contains various sections. The training selector can be used for guidance to the correct training according to products and applications.To participate in the free training program, go to the training platform and use the Sika code*: FEICA_21_C20*The Sika FEICA code does not expire, but it is valid only for the trainings on the use of sealants and adhesives. These are trainings 048, 049, 050, 051, 052, 053 and 054, which can be found by clicking on the 'Adhesives & Sealants' picture on the training website. These trainings cover the applications of almost all Sika products, except for spraying applications.
What is REACH?
REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulation) is a European regulation that aims at protecting people and the environment from potential risks from chemical substances, whilst ensuring that the global competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry is maintained.
How can Sika Help you Comply with the New Regulations?
We are committed to supporting your compliance with the new REACH legislation. When handling chemicals, it is important to keep the exposure to them as low as possible. As a leading producer of polyurethane-based sealants and adhesives, Sika takes the health and safety of users of products containing diisocyanate very seriously.
You can choose from two options:
Option 1: Mandatory Training for Employees handling diisocyanates:
By August 24th, 2023, all workers handling diisocyanates and mixtures thereof and their managers need to be trained in their safe handling. The benefit of this option is that it allows for manufacturers to continue with their current materials, without extensive requalification work of potential alternatives.
FEICA, together with ISOPA and ALIPA, the diisocyanate manufacturers’ industry associations, have prepared training material in line with the legal requirements. The training is now available in all the European Union languages and includes an interface for company-wide certificate management. For adhesives and sealants users, the training is sponsored by FEICA. Note that the training should be integrated into new hire policy and may become applicable if the employee changes roles within a company. The training certificate expires after 5 years and will need to be renewed.
As a member of FEICA, Sika offers a free access to the training; go to the training platform and use the Sika code*: FEICA_21_C20
Option 2: Switch to Alternatives:
Sika’s Sikaflex® range of elastic polyurethane adhesives is partially affected by the upcoming regulation. All products from the Sikaflex®-2xx series contain more than 0.1% diisocyanate in an uncured state. However, Sika offers a variety of solutions based on Silane Terminated Polymer (STP) or Purform® technology that don’t require any additional measures for users to be REACH compliant. Purform® adhesive and sealants are polyurethanes with less than 0.1% free monomeric diisocyanate content, these products eliminate the need for specific REACH health and safety training.