It is often depicted on home renovation shows as a “green” miracle product that can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 50 percent. But the reality behind spray foam insulation is that if not applied correctly by a professional, it can cause chronic health problems in homeowners such as headaches and ear, nose and throat irritation.
But the greatest dangers posed by spray foam insulation are to the workers installing it. These workers are exposed to chemicals in the spray foam insulation including isocyanates and polyol plus additives like catalysts containing amines, as well as pigments, flame retardants and surfactants. As a result, workers may end up with respiratory and other health issues if they don’t protect themselves properly. These illnesses include asthma, chest tightness, eye and skin irritation and lung damage. Workers exposed to isocyanates, either through their skin or inhalation, may develop sensitivity to the chemicals, resulting in severe asthma attacks on re-exposure. Professional installers need to be aware of the symptoms of sensitization, especially since severe asthma attacks can be fatal.
Workers are typically exposed high concentrations of these chemicals during the installation process, during which time they are not only spraying but also cutting, sweeping and in other ways handling the product. Employees who work with spray foam insulation are required to wear complete protective gear (respirators, eye protection, chemically impervious suits and gloves, shoe covers) to avoid contact with these dangerous chemicals. The work area should also be properly ventilated during the entire job, with containment measures in place to prevent fumes from entering existing mechanical systems.
Spray Foam Insulation Can Also Effect Homeowners
Homeowners are also at risk due to exposure to the chemicals in spray foam insulation. For the most part, the fumes and the affects of the chemicals should wear off before you move back in, but sometimes there is remaining ‘off-gas’ if the product has not cured completely or correctly. If you begin to smell a fish-like odor after the installation of spray foam installation, contact your insulation installer immediately, and seek medical attention.
If you have experienced health issues due to spray foam insulation, seek the help of experienced attorney Winston Briggs to find out if you may be owed compensation for your injuries.