Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is used as an effective insulator of residential and commercial buildings throughout the world. It is sprayed onto walls, ceilings, and other spaces to seal gaps to make structures more comfortable, energy efficient, and quiet. SPF involves a chemical reaction whereby isocyanates mix with polyol (among other proprietary chemicals) to create the foam, which eventually hardens into the insulation.
Although effective, it can cause various health issues in both building occupants and workers who apply it. The key contaminant is isocyanate which can cause skin, eye, and lung irritation as well as asthma and immune-sensitization. Both the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have classified isocyanates as the leading attributable chemical cause of work-related asthma. Indeed, the EPA has concluded that manufacturers’ claims that SPF is “non-toxic,” “safe” or “environmentally friendly” are inaccurate.
In addition to asthma, exposure to isocyanates may cause sensitization in some people after a single exposure to a relatively high concentration or repeated exposures to lower concentrations over time. The EPA has concluded there is no safe level of exposure after sensitization meaning an individual will be permanently impacted by the chemical. Even where sensitization does not result, long-term lung and respiratory problems may occur.
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 toxic chemicals contained in SPF. If you would like more information, please contact Chris Boutwell at 800-898-2034 or by email at Chris.Boutwell@beasleyallen.com
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