Brussels, 11 October 2017
The below outlines the situation the flexible polyurethane foam industry is currently confronted with as regards the contamination of TDI batches that were delivered to a number of companies. European flexible polyurethane foam producers represented within EUROPUR are fully mobilized to support their customers in this situation and to provide them with the information they need as it becomes available. Flexible polyurethane foam is a product widely used notably in the bedding, upholstered furniture and automotive industry thanks to its unique properties.
By letter dated 5 October 2017, BASF Polyurethanes GmbH informed their customers in the flexible polyurethane foam industry that the product Lupranate T80 manufactured in BASF’s plant in Ludwigshafen between 25 August and 29 September 2017 contained harmful substances as impurities, at a level significantly above impurity levels typically experienced in the industry.
Lupranate T80 is a mixture of the 2,4 and 2,6 isomers of toluene diisocyanate (TDI), which is one of the main raw materials used in the production of flexible polyurethane foam blocks. If the harmful substances considered are present in TDI significantly above admitted impurity levels, the flexible polyurethane foam produced with the said TDI will potentially contain the substances too.
It is our understanding that not all Lupranate T80 batches produced in Ludwigshafen during the period concerned displayed the same level of contamination. Different flexible polyurethane foam producers may therefore have received batches with different levels of contamination and the content of flexible polyurethane foam produced with the said product may therefore vary. Foam producers are therefore advised by BASF to carry out tests on the foam contaminated by the raw materials in order to have data of their own production.
As a result of the communication by BASF, flexible polyurethane foam producers affected by the situation have taken a number of precautionary measures, including when necessary, but not limited to, stopping production or deliveries to their customers.
It should be noted that flexible polyurethane foam blocks produced with TDI from other raw material producers, or BASF production facilities other than Ludwigshafen, or TDI produced in Ludwigshafen outside of the period 25 August to 29 September are, according to the aforementioned letter, not affected by this contamination. TDI supplied by trading companies may however be contaminated if it was originally produced by BASF in Ludwigshafen during the period concerned. The company Vencorex informed its affected customers that it supplied such TDI under the brand name Scuranate T80.
Flexible polyurethane foams based on Methylene Diphenyl Diisocyanate (MDI) are not affected by this contamination.
It is our understanding that, to contribute to resolving the issue, BASF Polyurethanes GmbH informed their customers by letter dated 10 October 2017 that it is offering to collect all Lupranate T80 still in storage at its customers ’ facilities and also to collect contaminated unprocessed foams. The latter covers foams produced with contaminated Lupranate T80 still at foam producers’ warehouses or stored at the warehouses of their customers. We understand it also covers foams manufactured, with contaminated TDI produced in Ludwigshafen sold by trading companies provided they are still at the warehouses of the customers of the said trading companies. This should allow affected flexible polyurethane foam producers to resume production within a reasonable amount of time.
EUROPUR has set-up a platform to allow flexible polyurethane foam producers affected by the situation to exchange information and cooperate on health and safety issues that may still arise from the contamination. This will allow foam producers to work together in view of providing their customers in downstream industries with the information they need in case of contamination of their products.
This statement may therefore be revised as more information becomes available.
The above statement has been prepared in good faith based on the information available to us to date. No warranties are made with regard to its completeness, accuracy or reliability and neither EUROPUR aisbl nor its members will accept liability for damages resulting from the use of or reliance on the information it contains.
EUROPUR is the European Association of Flexible Polyurethane Foam Blocks Manufacturers. Our members produce flexible polyurethane foam in 25 countries of Europe. More information about the association is available at www.europur.org
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