Michael F. Easley

The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina Dempsey Benton

North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: January 28, 2008

  Contact: Carol Schriber

Public health study crew wraps up field work

Este pagina en espanolRALEIGH— The field work has been completed for a public health study of possible community exposures to the chemical TDI, or toluene diisocyanate, in 10 neighborhoods in four North Carolina counties—Catawba, Randolph, Guilford and Mecklenburg. Now, researchers will begin to compile and analyze the data.

The study is being conducted by public health experts from the North Carolina Division of Public Health and the national Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

TDI is used in the manufacture of polyurethane products such as foam for cushions and furniture, sealants, and polyurethane coatings such as 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.

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

The comparison communities have similar demographics but no known TDI sources. Those comprise two neighborhoods in Conover (Catawba County); one in McLeansville (Guilford County); one in Asheboro (Randolph County); and one in Huntersville (Mecklenburg County).

The study staff asked volunteers in the selected neighborhoods questions about their respiratory health, sampled blood to look for indications of exposure to TDI, and tested air samples in multiple locations in each community over six-week time periods starting in May 2007. About 400 adults have participated in the study, about half who lived in areas near TDI sources and half in neighborhoods farther away from places using the chemical. The study does not include children.

This research will help public health agencies determine if exposure to low levels of TDI in the environment is occurring and if the respiratory health of people who live near TDI sources is different from those who live further away. The study may indicate patterns of community exposure and community health, but they will not be useful in evaluating the health of specific individuals. Participation and all survey and test results are strictly confidential, and no names will be associated with the results.

Final study results are anticipated in 2009. Compiling and analyzing all the collected data will take several months. The study staff will then write a report, which will be reviewed by scientists outside of the two agencies. Once the review process is complete, the report will be released to the public. Meanwhile, the residents who participated will receive periodic reports on the progress of the study.

The researchers will also be educating the medical community on how to interpret individual and overall study results for their patients before the final report is released.

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).



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