Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation is widely used in residential and commercial construction in the United States, Canada and Europe. The product can be easily applied to walls, ceilings and other small spaces in a building’s infrastructure, but contains extremely toxic components that have been linked in the scientific literature of pulmonary diseases.
SPF, among other toxic ingredients, contains isocyanates, which are highly reactive and toxic chemicals. Exposure to isocyanates can cause skin, eye, and lung irritation, as well as asthma and immune-sensitization. In 2006, The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a study examining the risk of asthma and death from SPF exposure. Isocyanates have been reported to be the leading attributable chemical cause of work-related asthma, a potentially life-threatening disease.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has described isocyanates as the “leading attributable cause of work-related asthma.” In addition to asthma, exposure to the isocyanates in SPF may cause sensitization in some people. Sensitization may result from either a single exposure to a relatively high concentration or repeated lower concentration exposures over time. According to the EPA, there is no safe level of exposure after sensitization. NIOSH found that exposure to isocyanates, even when it does not result in sensitization, can lead to long-term lung and respiratory problems.
Manufacturers of SPF often advertise the product as being “non-toxic,” “safe” and “environmentally friendly.” The EPA has found these marketing claims to be inaccurate. In addition to serious health effects, reliance on these false marketing claims can also cause homeowners to suffer a catastrophic reduction in the value of their homes or buildings in which SPF was installed.
Lawyers in our firm’s Toxic Torts Section are currently investigating potential claims by homeowners and construction workers who suffer adverse health effects from exposure to the toxic chemicals contained in SPF. If you would like more information, or have questions you can contact Chris Boutwell, a lawyer in the Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Chris.Boutwell@beasleyallen.com.
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