Do You Have Spray Foam?

Itchy, burning irritated eyes, headache, chest pain, sore throat, running nose, increased mucus in head/throat, breathing problems, cough, bronchitis, skin rash are some of the common complaints from families living in a home with spray foam insulation.

Does your home have a sweet almost chemical like smell that intensifies in the heat (attic on a hot day).  Some foams are fishy smelling.  Spray foam is NOT suppose to have an odor so if it does you may need to start asking questions.

Do your symptoms go away if you leave your home for awhile?  If so – you may have a problem with your foam.

Looking at your foam can sometimes help determine a problem because of physical characteristics, but lots of problem foam homes have ‘ok’ looking foam.  Well, ‘ok’ until tested in a chamber to see the gross amount of chemicals that ooze out at low temps of only 73 degrees.

Is your foam sticky, soft and wet or dry and flaky?  Is it a cream color or yellow/orange?  Is the color consistent or marbled?

Do you smell areas more than other areas?  try cutting a mason jar sized piece out and put it in a mason jar, close it up for a day then smell it.  Is it potent or no odor?  If the whiff test makes your nose cringe, you very well may have a problem.

Did the installer ventilate your home while installing?  Did the put a warning sign on your property to stay out for 24-48hr post spray (and during spray)?

If you think your foam is off gassing (yes, that means if it has a smell and sometimes the smell can minimal, but if you have symptoms as stated above with or without the smell) it is best to act sooner than later.  We do not know the long term affects from SPF that is not inert.  However it is well publicized that the chemical that make up SPF are all very dangerous and many are classified as carcinogens.  So its better safe than sorry to have your SPF looked at and you indoor air to be tested if you even suspect you may have something wrong with your spray foam.

Contact me at or leave a message on this blog.







More research needed: SPF offgassing

Link to Spray Foam Safety here

“Potential Chemical Exposures
Chemical exposures from SPF may occur through a variety of ways. The work site should be restricted to persons wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.

Vapors and Aerosols
Spray application generates isocyanate vapors and aerosols.
Research data indicate that inhalation exposures during SPF insulation will typically exceed OSHA occupational exposure limits (OELs) and require skin, eye and respiratory protection.
Vapors and aerosols can migrate through the building if the area is not isolated and properly ventilated.
After application, vapors may linger in a building until properly ventilated and thoroughly cleaned.
Cutting or trimming the foam as it hardens (tack-free phase) may generate dust that may contain unreacted isocyanates and other chemicals.
After application, dust may linger in a building until properly ventilated and thoroughly cleaned.
Heat-generating processes
Any heat-generating processes such as drilling, welding, soldering, grinding, sawing, or sanding on or near the foam insulation may generate a range of airborne degradation (PDF) (3 pp, 109K, About PDF) chemicals, including, isocyanates, amines, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, or nitrogen oxides.
Fires involving SPF may release isocyanates, hydrogen cyanide, amines, and other toxic chemicals into the air. Read Isocyanates (Emissions from fires) (PDF) (130 pp, 10 MB, About PDF). Fire departments have issued advisories and require the use of full supplied air respirators when fighting polyurethane fires.
“Curing” of SPF means that the chemicals in the product are reacting to produce polyurethane foam. SPF material is highly adhesive and will stick to most surfaces. SPF may appear hardened or “tack-free” within a range of a few seconds to a few minutes after application. However, at this stage, the foam is still curing and still contains unreacted SPF chemicals.

Some manufacturers estimate that it can take approximately 23-72 hours after application for the foam to fully cure for the two-component high pressure “professional” SPF system, and approximately 8 to 24 hours to cure for one component foam, typically available in 12 oz. to 24 oz. cans, but more research is needed to account for the potential variability of curing rates.

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Curing Rates of SPF Affect Re-Entry Times
The curing time (complete reaction) varies depending on the type of SPF product, product formulation, applicator technique, foam thickness, temperature, humidity and other factors. Cutting or trimming foam before it is fully cured may cause exposure to unreacted SPF chemicals.

Homeowners, school administrators, and other decision-makers should get clear guidance from contractors, system houses, and product manufacturers on the appropriate time of year to install SPF in your area or weather conditions that may impact the installation of SPF. Temperature and humidity play a critical role in the curing of SPF ingredients. More product research is needed to understand the implications variability may play in future potential off-gassing. Ask to see any reports developed from product testing on re-entry times and the impact of the variability of factors that influence curing.

The polyol blend (B-side) contains a variety of proprietary chemicals and curing rates may vary for different SPF product formulations. Read the manufacturer’s recommendation in the material safety data sheet (MSDS) and other product information for all types of SPF products and applications.

Air sampling and testing the indoor air following SPF installation is one way to assure the foam is completely cured. Emissions testing of SPF foam applied in a laboratory and in the field (at the work site) may vary. Testing should be conducted by a certified laboratory using a validated method such as the Standard Method for the Testing and Evaluation of Volatile Organic Chemical Emissions from Indoor Sources Using Environmental Chambers, Version 1.1 (2010) (PDF) (52pp, 429KB, About PDF) under California Section 01350 .

Long-term Concerns for Exposure Potential
After spray foam is applied and cured, it is considered to be relatively inert; however, there are several situations where the cured foam may pose additional potential risks.

Maintenance workers, including plumbers and electricians, should not heat or grind spray foam. Spray foam can potentially generate toxic emissions under these circumstances.
Building renovations, demolition, or building disassembly done years later can disturb spray foam insulation. Performing hot work on or near polyurethane foam may lead to potential exposures to isocyanates and other toxic emissions.
Potential Off-Gassing
The potential for off-gassing of volatile chemicals from spray polyurethane foam is not fully understood and is an area where more research is needed.

One method for measuring volatile chemicals is the standard method under California Section 01350. In addition, ASTM International, an organization that sets standards for products and materials, has initiated development of a standard (D22.05) to determine volatile organic compounds, diisocyanates, oligomeric isocyanates, and amine catalysts emitted from SPF insulation products designed for on-site application in buildings (ASTM WK30960).”

Blog Name Change – sprayfoamdangers

Seeing that I am getting a good amount of traffic to my blog, I felt it was time for a name change.
Spray foam does suck, but my blog will know be called Spray Foam Dangers.

Now that we have lots of lawyers on board, I will use my time to educate and raise awareness to the inherent dangers of spray foam insulation.

The lawyers can fight it out with Demilec and the others, but I will try to help give you info on what to do once you figured out your foam is making you sick.

I encourage others to send info and research to help others. I will NEVER post a name or fact that you do not want posted, but please send me your spray foam stories so I can post under a ‘real life SPF stories” this will help us all while we navigate through living with bad foam.

The Pole Barn Guru has some comments about spray foam worth reading

Follow The Pole Barn Guru Blog on Facebook
Below is a blog taken from The Pole Barn Guru:

“What’s the Stink?

One popular, although expensive, method of insulating pole buildings is with spray foam insulation. Besides cost, spray foam can also bring with it problems in the form of lingering odors. These odors are coming from a catalyst in the foam, or from foam which is off-ratio, not mixed well or sprayed too thickly.

Odors which might occur with the foam application are typically caused by either the contractor applying the foam in greater than a 2-inch pass, or applying a second pass over the first without allowing the first pass to dissipate the heat and properly cure.

The odor occurs when the foam is slightly under processed. It happens when the recommended application temperatures aren’t followed. The recommended temperature varies with the substrate and weather conditions. As an example if the recommended application temperature is 140 degrees, and spray is done at 125 degrees, a full reaction does not occur. (These are the temperatures of the product leaving the gun). In this case, the amine catalyst (which has a strong odor) does not react properly and it won’t be fully consumed. It is real stinky.

A spray foam insulation work site should be isolated with polyethylene barriers and depressurized with an exhaust fan while the foam is being sprayed.

Some believe smelly foam problems can be solved by heat and ventilating the smelly areas. Most experts advise the only way to solve these problems is to remove the bad foam from the pole building.

Even foam removal may not solve a problem with a persistent odor, however as it is thought the smell can migrate to the framing lumber.

Thinking of hiring a spray foam contractor to insulate your pole building? Find out as much as possible about their training, their certification, and their experience level. In addition to verifying the training credentials of your spray foam contractor, you should insist your contractor isolate the work area and set up a fan to depressurize the areas where foam is being sprayed.

The industry has an almost impossible problem inherent in their dependence on spray contractors who have to comply fully with all installation instructions each and every time. For instance, they may have to spray to a certain thickness, wait, and continue spraying. Contractors may or may not follow such instructions to the letter. The industry’s own guidelines call for exhaust ventilation, but this practice is widely ignored. The point is, if the spray contractors truly had to work within all manufacturer instructions and industry guidelines, it would up-price the job.

Any experienced pole building package supplier knows building materials are occasionally defective. When a damaged or defective component is on the job site, the supplier wants to be able to call up a manufacturer’s rep and have the problem resolved quickly. If this happens, the supplier becomes a loyal customer. In fact, most suppliers’ choice of door brand is based not on the door quality but on the service provided by their rep. By this standard, many spray foam insulation manufacturers are failing dismally, as the service is often less than exemplary.

The advice to spray-foam manufacturers is simple: it’s not acceptable to brush off customers with smelly foam. If these cases aren’t quickly resolved, the dead-fish smell is likely to taint the entire industry.”