BASF SE has admitted to supplying 50 customers in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region with toluene diisocyanate contaminated with dichlorobenzene in August and September.
The company confirmed the situation after Switzerland's Conzzetta AG, which owns customer FoamPartner, and Belgian foamer Recticel, issued statements overnight. Recticel said five of its plants had been supplied with contaminated Lupranate T80 A. FoamPartner said that three of its plants had been supplied.
In a statement, BASF said that TDI from Ludwigshafen, Germany, "produced between Aug. 25 and Sept. 29, 2017, contained a significantly higher concentration of dichlorobenzene. Since then, the production process has been changed to prevent further fluctuations in quality."
It added that around 7,500 metric tons of TDI were affected.
BASF continued that it is taking back, at its own cost, TDI that is still in customers' tanks and has not yet been processed. This should be completed by the end of the coming week.
In addition, the firm said it is offering to take back, at BASF's cost, all foam blocks that were produced with the product in the relevant time period.
For the product that has been processed further, BASF "recommends as a precautionary measure that its customers conduct tests to ensure that the relevant industry standards are adhered to."
The firm added that it is "working closely with customers and will offer support for testing and consultation as needed" and that a customer hotline is being established.
Dichlorobenzene was found in higher quantities than usual in the TDI because of what BASF described as "a change in process parameters."
"This," the firm added, "resulted in the failure to adequately remove dichlorobenzene in the distillation step of TDI production."
BASF said that the process has been modified to stop this happening again.
Dichlorobenzene is suspected of being carcinogenic. It can cause irritation of the skin, the eyes and the respiratory tract and sensitization of the skin.
Conzzetta, the Swiss holding company that owns FoamPartner, said: "Three factories in Wolfhausen, Switzerland; Duderstadt, Germany, and Leverkusen, Germany are affected. The contaminated batches were secured and isolated at the Leverkusen factory."
TDI delivered to FoamPartner's Duderstadt plant had been completely processed by the time BASF told the firm. Customers who have bought FoamPartner product from this plant have been informed, FoamPartner said.
FoamPartner's Wolfhausen factory was using the TDI in production when it discovered the problem. Production was suspended, deliveries stopped and customers were informed. Complete resumption of production is planned in the next days, FoamPartner concluded.
Recticel said that the material was delivered to five of its factories and it "has taken immediate precautionary measures in the affected sites, with a temporary stop in production and deliveries, to limit any potential adverse impact on quality and safety of employees, customers or consumers."
Recticel said that it will protect customers as far as possible from the problems they may face from the contaminated TDI. Production and deliveries are expected to restart in the coming days, the firm added.