October 12 , 2006 PFA Technical Program, Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort, Santa Barbara, California

 “Report From The Viscoelastic Technical Task Group” Roy Pask, BASF Corporation

The PFA Viscoelastic Foam Task Group was formed in 2003. In the previous Task Group technical presentation made at the May, 2004 PFA Technical Program, the group reported the results of round robin testing of density, resilience, IFD, recovery time, air flow and compression set. The purpose was to determine whether the test methods specified in ATSM D-3574 were appropriate for use with viscoelastic foam products.

This paper and slide presentation report the results of additional round robin testing to determine the effect of temperature and humidity on compression set testing, and to determine whether the pounding fatigue test specified in ASTM D-3574 was reproducible with viscoelastic foam samples. The report also addresses the question of whether viscoelastic foams lose their slow recovery performance after fatiguing.

 “Regulatory Issues For Flame Retardants Used In Flexible Polyurethane Foam” Susan Landry, Albemarle Corporation

Flexible polyurethane foam is used in products that we encounter everyday, such as upholstered furniture, automobiles, carpet underlay, and bedding. Flame retardants are used in many of these applications to help protect society. In the end-use application, flame retardants delay the spread of fires or delay the time of flashover in order to enable people more time to escape the effects of the fires. The ultimate purpose of their use is to save lives and property. Research has shown that the use of flame retardants in upholstered furniture has results in a substantial reduction in fire deaths.

Some flame retardants have received negative publicity due to perceived environmental and toxicological issues. Many of the conclusions that have been drawn are broad generalizations that are only applicable to specific flame retardants. Information is being generated on the potential health and environmental effects of the flame retardants that are used in flexible polyurethane foam. Several of these flame retardants are currently undergoing EU Risk Assessments and evaluations in the US. This paper addresses the current regulatory status of flame retardants used in flexible polyurethane foam. The presentation includes updates on the status of the EU Risk Assessments, US activity, and worldwide regulations involving these flame retardants. Also included is an update on fire safety regulations related to polyurethane foam applications.

 “Antibody Assays: Limitations And Appropriate Uses” Cynthia Graham, Huntsman Corporation

Specific IgG for toluene diisocyanate (TDI) human serum albumin (HSA) was reported in 8% of residents living close to a foam manufacturing facility that used TDI (Environmental Health Perspectives: 665:1998). However, because comparable data were not obtained in populations without such facilities, the significance of this finding is uncertain. In a recent study of a general population, specific and non-specific IgG antibodies reactive with HDI- and TDI-HSA were detected in subjects with no known exposure to isocyanates.

The correlation between diisocyanate antibody testing and occupational asthma has been investigated for decades. These assays have not proven sufficient to identify individuals diagnosed with diisocyanate-induced asthma. Assays vary with each lab; a validated method is still not available. Since antibody testing can not identify disease or exposure in potentially exposed workers, it is unlikely that these tests can be reliable markers of diisocyanate exposure in non-worker populations.

 “Ecomate in Flexible Slabstock Foams” John Murphy, Foam Supplies, Inc

The ideal combination of boiling point and solubility mimicking the solubility and boiling point of 141b makes Ecomate an ideal blowing agent in slabstock foams. With about half the molecular weight of 141b, it is all the more economical for this application. Combining this efficiency and economy of use with the environmentally friendly nature of Ecomate [zero ODP, zero GWP, and VOC-exempt] there is no doubt that it can be highly appealing to this market.

Ecomate is vastly superior to water, which builds polyurea giving a boardy feel to foams, and which is poorly compatible with many urethane raw materials. Hydrocarbons suffer from extremely poor solubility, from high flammability, and have VOC issues. Ecomate produces foams similar to those blown with acetone, but with a lower boiling point [more efficient]. Because of its excellent solubility, Ecomate gives slightly softer foams than those formerly achieved with HCFC-141b. It produces very low density foams with very good hand.