Michael F. Easley

The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina Carmen Hooker Odom

North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: April 26, 2007


Contact: Carol Schriber,
NC DHHS Office of Public Affairs,
(919) 733-9190
Charles Green,
ATSDR Office of Communication, (404) 498-0297

Upcoming study will assess community exposures to chemical TDI

RALEIGH —Public health experts from the North Carolina Division of Public Health and the national Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) are beginu=ning a study of community exposures to the chemical TDI, or toluene diisocyanate, in four North Carolina counties—Catawba, Randolph, Guilford, and Mecklenburg.

TDI is used in the manufacture of polyurethane products such as foam for cushions and furniture, sealants, and polyurethane coatings such as paint and varnish. During manufacturing processes, TDI can be released into the environment.

TDI is known to cause asthma in some workers who are exposed to it. However, very little is known about the effect of low levels of TDI exposure to people near emissions sources.

The purpose of the study is to see if low levels of TDI exposure affect the health of the general public. The study staff will compare inform at ion gathered from communities near TDI sources with information from communities that are farther away from such sources.

The study staff will go into the selected communities and ask volunteers questions about their respir at ory health. They will also ask permission to take a blood sample to look for indic at ions of exposure to TDI. Air samples will also be tested for TDI in four locations in each community over a six-week time period. Participation and all survey and test results will be strictly confidential, and no names will be associated with the results.

About 500 adults will be included in the study—250 people who live near TDI sources and 250 people who live in other areas. The study will not include children.

The study results will indicate patterns of community exposure and community health, but not the health of specific individuals. This research will help public health agencies determine if the results from groups of people near TDI sources are different from those of other groups. This type of research helps public health agencies understand the effect of environmental factors on community health.

The communities with TDI sources chosen for the study were selected on the basis of TDI emissions data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The facilities selected (in priority order) are Hickory Springs in Conover and Carpenter Co. in Conover, both in Catawba County ; Flexible Foam (formerly Vitafoam) in High Point , Randolph County ; Olympic Products (formerly Vitafoam) in Pleasant Ga rden , Guilford County ; Foamex LP in Cornelius, Mecklenburg County ; and Prestige Fabricators in Asheboro , Randolph County.

The comparison communities have similar demographics but no known TDI sources. The selected comparison communities are two neighborhoods in Conover ( Catawba County ); one in Asheboro ( Randolph County ); and one in McLeansville ( Guildford County ). Two more comparison sites will be selected if needed to reach the goal of 250 participants from areas without TDI sources.

Additional information about the study is on the N.C. Division of Public Health web site at www.ncpublichealth.com or by calling the N.C. CARE-LINE Information and Referral Service toll-free at 1-800-662-7030 (TTY for the hearing impaired: 1-877-452-2514).



As the study moves from county to county, free public information sessions will be held in each county to give local residents an opportunity to ask questions and to find out more about the study.

The field study begins in Catawba County in mid-May in the Hickory Springs and Carpenter communities. The public information sessions for that area will be held:

  • Monday, May 7 - 6 to 8 pm at New Life Assembly of God, Section House Road , Hickory ( MEDIA BRIEFING from 3:00 to 4:00 pm at that location .)

  • Tuesday afternoon, May 8 - 3 to 5 pm at Immanuel Lutheran Church , 2448 Emmanuel Church Road , Conover

  • Tuesday evening, May 8 - 6 to 8 pm at Oxford Fire and Rescue #2, 5710 North NC 16 Highway, Conover

Direct URL for TDI website: www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/oee/tdi.html. The website includes general and detailed study information, maps of study areas, study protocol, and other relevant information.

Public Affairs Office
101 Blair Drive, Raleigh, NC 27603
FAX (919)733-7447

Debbie Crane