The Dangers of Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF): Why Homeowners Should Think Twice About Installing SPF in Their Homes.

Homeowners are often told by contractors that spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is a better option for insulating their home. Contractors and installers sell SPF to homeowners by telling them that the product is environmentally friendly and will result in using less energy, thereby reducing a homeowner’s carbon footprint. Homeowners are also told that SPF is non-toxic and harmless to the home structure itself, as well as the people who live there. While these are not lies, the contractors and installers fail to mention that if the SPF, if not installed one-hundred percent correctly, is indeed extremely toxic and can cause major damage to those in the home and to the home itself.

SPF is a two-component material created by spraying Part A and Part B at the same time. Each of these chemicals throws off forms of toxic poison by way of off-gassing. This off-gassing results in exposure to formaldehyde and isopropylene, both of which are toxic to humans at certain levels. When these chemicals are properly prepared and precisely mixed the chemicals have a complete reaction and eventually bond, therefore stopping the off-gas and producing a safe way to insulate your home. However, the dangerous off-gassing of these toxic chemicals can occur indefinitely if they are not properly prepared, or precisely mixed or specific site conditions are not right for installation.

Improper installation of SPF is one of the leading causes of homeowners’ issues with Spray Polyurethane Foam. Many installers market themselves as being certified by the manufacturer of the SPF they sell. What homeowners do not know is that to get the entire company certified, only one employee goes to the training offered by the manufacturer. That employee is tasked with returning to the office, along with multiple binders full of hard to understand information, to train the rest of the employees to install these toxic materials. More than likely, the person coming to your house to install the SPF has never received any formal training, thus increasing the likelihood that the SPF is not properly installed in your home.

To keep yourself and others safe from exposure of these chemicals, it is suggested that residents vacate the home during installation and remain away from the home for up to 24-48 hours after installation is complete. The following symptoms can occur during or immediately after exposure to the toxic chemicals contained in SPF: wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, irritation of the eyes and lungs, fever, stuffy nose, sore throat, tightness in the chest, headaches, and joint pain.

So what should you do when considering installing Spray Polyurethane Foam in your home? Be sure to research the installer, their safety protocols, and reviews. SPF has been effective in reducing heating and cooling costs; however, the risks with improper installation and exposure to toxic compounds at any time during the process may outweigh the benefits.

At Shipman & Wright, we’re here to help. Please contact us if you’ve been exposed to an SPF that has negatively impacted your life.