Isocyanates are a class of low-molecular-weight, highly reactive compounds. They are employed in a wide variety of industrial items, such as paints, adhesives, and resins. Exposure to isocyanates is linked to several additional harmful health effects, including cancer as well as asthma and allergic contact dermatitis. Workers’ exposures must be carefully managed in situations where isocyanates are used or accidentally produced, such as when polyurethanes are heated.

The mucous membranes of the ocular, gastrointestinal, and respiratory systems are all severely irritated by isocyanates. Intense inflammation can also be brought on by direct skin contact. Additionally, exposure to isocyanates might sensitize employees, leaving them vulnerable to severe asthma episodes in the future. There is proof that sensitization can result from both cutaneous and inhalation exposures. There have been reports of some sensitive individuals passing away from acute asthma.


Workers who may have been exposed to isocyanates should see a doctor who has experience treating patients with work-related health issues if they develop persistent or recurrent symptoms, which include the following:

  • Eye irritation
  • Nasal congestion
  • Dry or sore throat
  • Cold-like symptoms
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness 

Furthermore, the symptoms differ depending on how long the isocyanate exposure occurred. This can be a short-term or long-term exposure.

Short-term exposure symptoms may include:

  • Burning sensation in the eyes, nose, throat, and skin
  • Rashes
  • Skin Blisters 
  • Reddening of the skin

Long-term exposure symptoms may include:

  • Asthma 
  • Severe reaction when exposed to chemicals 


In diagnosing isocyanates, doctors collect a sample of urine to be tested to know if the person is possibly exposed to isocyanates. 


Given that isocyanates are harmful, it’s crucial to limit worker exposure to them wherever they are produced or utilized. Isocyanate exposure must be managed to keep it to a minimum. Some people are more susceptible to the effects of sensitization than others, and even much lower dosages can be detrimental to one’s health.

So whenever someone is exposed to isocyanate, there is no truly specific treatment to address it. Doctors can only provide care through intravenous fluids and pain relievers to treat people exposed to isocyanate. And since there is no specific treatment, it is better to have a preventive measure to ensure that exposure is avoided at all.

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