When is it “green”? Preventing the toxic effects of spray foam insulation
Spray polyurethane foam insulation (SPF) is presented as a highly-effective and versatile product that meets high R-value needs for professionals and DIYers alike.
But there are widespread and legitimate concerns about the health effects of its ingredients (particularly isocyanates).
After reviewing its chemistry and life cycle impacts, and where and how isocyanates are used in building products, this presentation reviews the historical and current ingredients and uses of SPF in buildings. We present health concerns about these uses raised by fenceline communities, occupational and environmental health studies, fire fighters and fire investigators, and others along the life cycle of this product -- with a focus on the toxic ingredients in SPF.
Those concerns include reports from a Syracuse occupational health clinic about the experiences of work crews and building occupants, supplemented by concerns and questions from building scientists, occupational and environmental health agencies and researchers, and other important sources over the years.
We present examples of less toxic substitutions by application for SPF and discuss how a precautionary green chemistry framework meets the goal of sustainable buildings that are healthy and safe for all.
Featured speakers include: Greg Siwinski, certified industrial hygienist with the Occupational Health Clinical Center (SUNY Upstate Medical University); moderator Rebecca Stamm (Healthy Building Network's lead researcher on insulation and sealants); and, HBN research director Jim Vallette.