Helsinki (11.01.1999 - Juhani Artto) Who's afraid of isocyanates? Hundreds of thousands of workers in Europe and elsewhere should be, warns the Finnish Metalworkers Union.

Isocyanates are a hidden danger. It may take several years until exposure leads to noticeable symptoms. Moreover regular measuring methods were unable for many years to give an accurate picture of the insidious isocyanate content of the working environment.

In 1996 Swedish researchers Marianne Dalene and Gunnar Skarping provided a new measuring method which could show isocyanate concentrations up to a hundred times higher than those shown by earlier methods.

The trade unions in Sweden were so alarmed by this that they soon began a campaign to expose isocyanate risks and to reduce them at places of work. Now, the Swedish occupational health and safety authorities are also concerned about the situation.

In Finland, the Metalworkers Union has taken the initiative in combating isocyanate risks. Together with other Nordic Metalworkers Unions, the Finns have joined the lobby for European legislation to protect the health of workers.

Read also Rolf Ählberg: Overview on Isocyanates