CBC Marketplace Link to Friday Broadcast on SPF Horror Story

Renovation Horror Story

More and more Canadians are using easy, energy-efficient spray foam insulation, but when the job goes wrong, it can be a nightmare for homeowners.

This week, Tom Harrington takes you inside the walls and up into the attic to explore a home renovation horror story, a foul-smelling foam job that’s driven a family from its home. Marketplace reveals the risks of this popular insulation.


CBC Marketplace

Toxic Hot Seat Website – Flame Retardant Resource

Here is link to Toxic Hot Seat website that has many good links and info about the dangers of flame retardants.

Flame retardants are abundant in spray foam insulation and become part of your living space via dust.  Anyone who believes spray foam insulation is safe and ‘inert’ has been greenwashed.

Your house may be full of flame retardants if you have spray foam insulation.

HBO – Toxic Hot Seat Documentary

Ever wonder how toxic foam is?  Here is a trailer for a documentary (Toxic Hot Seat – HBO) about the dangers of flame retardants in polyurethane foams – YES, that is what spray foam insulation and your couch and bed are made of.

Technical Sheet Admitting to Improper Application Outcomes

Taken from: Application guidelines for Foamsulate

FoamsulateTM 50 is suitable for application to most construction materials including wood, masonry, concrete, and metal. All surfaces to be sprayed with foam should be clean, dry, and free of dew or frost. All metal to which the foam is to be applied must be free of oil, grease, etc. Six (6) inches should be the maximum thickness of each pass. Allow ten minutes between each pass to allow for cooling. Multiple layers can be applied to reach the desired thickness and R-value.

Substrate temperature at the time of the FoamsulateTM 50 application should be between 50°F to 120°F, the warmer the surface, the better the adhesion. For temperatures outside of this range you must consult the Technical Services department prior to application.

As with all spray polyurethane foam systems, improper application techniques should be avoided. Examples of improper techniques include, but are not limited to, excessive thickness of spray polyurethane foam, off ratio material and spraying into or under rising foam. Potential results of improperly installed spray polyurethane foam include: dangerously high reaction temperatures that may result in fire and offensive odors that may or may not dissipate. Improperly installed foam must be removed and replaced with properly installed spray polyurethane foam. It is the responsibility of the applicator to thoroughly understand all equipment technical information and safe operating procedures that pertain to a spray polyurethane foam application.

When changing the “B” side (resin) to another type of spray polyurethane foam it is very important that the supply hoses and pumps are completely drained. Mixing of dissimilar product types will have an adverse effect on the foam.

Spray polyurethane foam insulation is combustible. High intensity heat sources such as welding or cutting torches must not be used in close proximity to any polyurethane foam.

Large masses of spray polyurethane foam should be removed to an outside safe area, cut into smaller pieces, and allowed to cool before discarding into a trash receptacle.


Tree Hugger’s New Series on Spray Foam Insulation

Margaret Badore from TreeHugger has just posted the first article in a series questioning the safety of spray foam insulation.

For the entire article go to TreeHugger here


This article is the first of a series examining the risks associated with spray polyurethane foam.

When Keri Rimel’s husband first came down with respiratory symptoms, he wasn’t sure what caused them. He had a sore throat, congested sinuses, and runny eyes.

The day before, he has visited the construction site of their new home, where a contractor was installing spray polyurethane foam insulation. He and the architect were in the same room as the installer. “He didn’t think anything of it,” said Keri Rimel.

Their house in Austin, Texas was a new build. They had chosen Demilec’s Sealection 500 spray foam as the only insulation and it filled every exterior wall cavity of the structure and the roof. Whenever he went back into the house, his symptoms would return…


Termites and Spray Foam Insulation

Looks like off gassing and health issues are not the only concern with SPF, check out CBC’s latest article on termites and spray foam insulation…

Full CBC Article Here:


Spray foam insulations are a popular construction material, but as home renovation season ramps up some exterminators are warning that the puffy stuff lining your walls could be a speedway for hungry termites seeking out wood.

Termite infestations have been on the rise in the GTA since spray-on foam insulations became more popular, according to a pest control operator.Termite infestations have been on the rise in the GTA since spray-on foam insulations became more popular, according to a pest control operator. (iStock)The foam insulations create a dense, sponge-like environment that can save energy and lower utility bills, but also allows creepy crawlers to tunnel their way towards wooden beams and frames that could be holding up your house.

Margaret Bryce is facing a $20,000 repair job after she had spray foam insulation installed around a wooden beam as well as under her house several years ago.

“It’s incredible, isn’t it?” she said, picking up a piece of termite-damaged wood that crumbled in her hand. The block, she said, was once a supporting beam.

“I had no idea that termites enjoyed the comfort of spray foam.”

GTA termite infestations on the rise, expert says

It’s nothing that professionals haven’t seen before, according to Richard Murphy, who works with the pest-control company Aetna.

In fact, he believes termite infestations are on the rise in the GTA and that the increasing popularity of spray foam insulations could be partly to blame.

‘Termites love to move through it, nest in it, and we see actually more damage done when spray foam is in place.’—Richard Murphy, Aetna pest control

“Termites love to move through it, nest in it, and we see actually more damage done when spray foam is in place,” he said, adding that the colonies “seem to be a little more aggressive” about chewing up a house when a “foam environment” is installed.

The spray-foam industry begs to differ.

Andrew Cole, who chairs the Canadian Urethane Foam Contractors Association, argues that termites are resourceful and dogged pests that can find a way through just about anything to feast on some nearby wood.

“They’re attracted to anything they can eat and digest and foam isn’t one of them, but if there is a termite infestation, the foam isn’t going to help the problem,” he said. “They will readily burrow through the spray polyurethane foam.”

As for what concerned home owners with plans to spray can do, Murphy recommends avoiding installation of the foams at ground level.

With files from CBC’s Michelle Cheung

Spray Foam in Court

From Courthouse News:
Class Action Over Foam Insulation Advances

     (CN) – The manufacturer and installer of spray polyurethane foam cannot dismiss claims that the allegedly carcinogenic insulation “remains toxic” after installation, a federal judge ruled.
After Pennsylvania residents Daniel and Paula Slemmer had McGlaughlin Spray Foam Insulation Inc. install SPF in their home last year, they sued the certified installer and the foam manufacturer, Barnhardt Manufacturing Co.
Purporting to represent a class, the Slemmers say SPF contains carcinogenic chemicals, “remains toxic” after installation, and poses health hazards to occupants of homes where it is used.
The complaint, filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, says the class members “have developed a significantly increased risk of contracting a serious latent disease” due to the insulation, which has resulted in “off-gassing, damaging the real and personal property of plaintiffs and class members and/or caused personal injuries resulting in eye irritations, sore throats and cough, nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, and/or neurological harm.”
The only remedy for the “highly toxic” insulation is its complete removal, the plaintiffs say.
They assert claims against Barnhardt and McGlaughlin for negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty, unjust enrichment and violation of Consumer Protection Acts, seeking equitable and injunctive relief, as well as medical monitoring. Meanwhile they have charged the manufacturer with only negligent supervision.
The complaint requests a recall of SPF, remediation of class members’ homes, the creation of a public awareness campaign, and an end to the misrepresentation of the dangers of SPF.
Both defendants moved to dismiss, and the plaintiffs cross-moved for discovery.
U.S. District Judge Jan DuBois partially granted the defendants’ motions and denied the plaintiffs’ cross-motion as moot July 3, holding that the Slemmers “have failed to identify either a serious latent disease which requires monitoring or a medical monitoring procedure suitable in this case.”
The court also tossed aside the claims for negligent supervision and breach of express warranties.
“Plaintiffs cite no law, and the court has found none, supporting the contention that Barnhardt’s training and certification created a legal duty to supervise SPF installers,” DuBois wrote.
But the breach of implied warranty, negligence, unjust enrichment, and Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law claims survived, even though the plaintiffs did not purchase SPF directly from Barnhardt.
“According to the complaint, defendants marketed and advertised SPF as a ‘safe, “green,” and non-toxic product,’ and such marketing ’caused actual damages to consumers, including plaintiffs and class members who purchased defendants’ SPF system because of defendants’ representations and conduct,’” DuBois wrote. “Plaintiffs further plead that ‘they would not have purchased SPF had the damaging side effects been disclosed to plaintiffs.’ The court agrees that plaintiffs have alleged justifiable reliance upon specific misrepresentations by defendants.”
The plaintiffs may amend the claims that were dismissed, according to the judgment. 

Keep it up OSHA

Newest article from SprayFoam.com: For Entire Article Click HERE

OSHA Announces New National Emphasis Program for Occupational Exposure to Isocyanates

WASHINGTON, D.C.–June 27, 2013–The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today announced a new National Emphasis Program to protect workers from the serious health effects from occupational exposure to isocyanates. OSHA develops national emphasis programs to focus outreach efforts and inspections on specific hazards in an industry for a three-year period. Through this NEP, OSHA will focus on workplaces in general, construction and maritime industries that use isocyanate compounds in an effort to reduce occupational illnesses and deaths.

“Workers exposed to isocyanates can suffer debilitating health problems for months or even years after exposure,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Through this program, OSHA will strengthen protections for workers exposed to isocyanates.”

Isocyanates are chemicals that can cause occupational asthma, irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat, and cancer (see Editor’s Note). Deaths have occurred due to both asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis from isocyanates exposure. Respiratory illnesses also can be caused by isocyanates exposure to the skin. Isocyanates are used in materials including paints, varnishes, auto body repair, and building insulation. Jobs that involve exposure to isocyanates include the spray-on polyurethane manufacturing of products such as mattresses and car seats, and protective coatings for truck beds, boats, and decks.

OSHA’s webpage on Isocyanates provides additional information on recognizing potential hazards, as well as OSHA standards that address isocyanates in the general, construction and maritime industries.

About OSHA: Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, please use the contact details and links provided below.

Editor’s Note: OSHA’s isocyanates webpage denotes 4,4′-Methylenediphenyl Diisocyanate (MDI) as being, “not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans.” However, 2,4-Toluene Diisocyanates (TDI) are listed as “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.” For more information about isocyanates, please use the links provided below.


California Working to Save People From Dangerous Flame Retardants in Spray Foam Insulation

Capital Public Radios’ Amy Quinton Writes…

A California senate committee has passed a bill that would update building standards to protect people from toxic flame retardants. Flame retardants are widely used in plastic foam insulation.

Full Article Here

(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, June 24, 2013

Current standards for foam insulation were developed in the 1970’s.

Supporters of the bill say those standards force manufacturers to use toxic flame retardants.

The measure, which has already passed the Assembly, would update building standards to ensure fire safety without those chemicals.

Justin Malan represents the US Green Building Council, which sponsored the bill.

“We don’t want to make the same mistakes we made with asbestos,” says Malan.”Sometimes we put building materials in there that need careful review, let’s not make the same costly and lethal mistakes we made with asbestos.”

But Joe Lang with the American Chemistry Council says the legislation is unnecessary.

He says flame retardants will be regulated by the Department of Toxic Substances Control under new green chemistry laws.

“There already is a process to do exactly what the bill does now, with experts, with chemical experts with policy experts that could result in a whole variety of changes,” says Lang.

The bill now moves to another Senate committee.


Our personal chamber and IAQ tests showed high levels of the Chlorinated Tris from our open cell spray foam.  By now it is well known that these flame retardants BECOME part of our INDOOR AIR.  Aside from the fact that SPF is made directly from very dangerous chemicals; adding toxic flame retardants to top it all off is so far from being healthy.  Green Guard Certification really means little in the big picture, perhaps just another ‘certification’ for a money making scheme.

No one knows the long term (or for us and many other SPF families, the short term dangers of using SPF in residential use (or schools, offices, hospitals).

Stay Tuned… more on this topic soon.