Asthma Induced by Exposure to Spray Polyurethane Foam in a Residential Home – Duke Study
Dr. Wayne Tsuang and Dr. Yuh-Chin T. Huang with the Department of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina recently posted an article in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine regarding asthma and spray foam insulation. Click here to view article.
Did You Select Spray Foam Insulation For Your Home?
Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) has recently become a popular “green” solution for insulation in homes across the United States. It is cost effective, energy efficient, and those who choose it are eligible for federal energy tax credits. Further, because of claims by SPF manufacturers, including Demilec and Icynene, many homeowners have selected SPF over standard insulation in thousands of homes—not only because of the economic benefits, but to improve indoor air quality. One manufacture claims “insulation is another major building product that has a long term affect on the air you breath. Environmentally-safe [SPF] will allow you to insulate your home or building without the harmful emissions, which improves the indoor air quality.”
Unfortunately, the opposite has been true for many homeowners. SPF insulation has not improved air quality in their homes. Instead, toxic exposure to spray foam insulation has caused serious health consequences for those who hoped to have safer healthier homes when they chose spray foam insulation.
Spray Polyurethane Foam Toxins and Harmful Off-Gassing
SPF insulation is formed with a heat-releasing chemical reaction during the application process. The composition includes approximate equal parts of an “A-side,” isocyanate groups, typically methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) and polymeric MDI, and a “B-side,” a poly resin blend. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that these chemicals have toxic properties that are harmful to humans at certain levels.
The application process involves a spray gun where the A-side and B-side are mixed together, and within a few minutes the combined chemicals form a tack-free foam. After application, homes with SPF typically have an odor, which has been described as a “musty” or “chemical smell.” Some have reported a “fish-like smell.” On certain occasions the odor dissipates and at other times intensifies. For example homeowners have reported the odor increases as temperatures rise and during the hottest months of the year.
These odors, or “off-gassing” can be the result of many variables. Installation errors are frequent due to the complex application process, which must occur to prevent harmful chemical emissions during and after the SPF application process. Certain experts have concluded that proper installation is difficult, if not impossible to achieve in residential homes, based upon a wide range of variables in the field such as temperature, moisture, and untrained or under trained installation workers. Manufacturers have known about this for years, but have done little to warn or protect the public as spray foam insulation sales increase across the country.
Injuries From Exposure to Spray Polyurethane Foam
Prolonged or high-dose exposure to the toxins found in SPF, including isocyanates, may result in a myriad of health problems. Severe breathing problems and skin reactions have been reported, as well as neurological symptoms such as memory loss. SPF has been found to cause respiratory illness, asthma, lung damage, and even respiratory sensitization.
Sensitization is an allergic reaction where an individual becomes more responsive to chemical exposure at progressively lower concentrations, even below concentrations considered safe for most people. A hyper-reactive response, such as an asthma attack, to even minimal concentration, may develop in sensitized individuals and can be life-threatening. Lung damage and sensitization may be permanent. Thus, those who become sensitized may be unable to reside in their homes or even come into contact with products or materials that contain polymeric isocyanates without having a severe reaction. Removal of SPF may provide little relief. Removal or remediation has in some cases intensified the original harmful affects of the spray foam insulation.
If you have spray foam insulation in your home and you, or someone you know has experienced any of the above symptoms, contact our law firm for an immediate free consultation. We have extensive experience in pursuing toxic and mass tort claims across the country and we are working closely with other experienced attorneys practicing nation wide to help those impacted by the harmful affects of toxic exposure to spray foam insulation. We are pursing claims on behalf of clients throughout the United States and we look forward to speaking with you about your legal rights.