Of all the recent green initiatives happening in businesses and homes, spray polyurethane foam insulation (SPF) has become a popular option to cut energy costs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website, correctly applied and cured spray foam is considered “relatively inert,” but there are “factors that impact curing rates and some long-term concerns for exposure potential.” Poorly installed foam has been shown to release dangerous gasses that are highly toxic to humans.
Making the right decision about saving energy requires knowing all of the safety precautions and risks involved with an SPF installation.
What is Spray Foam Insulation?
SPF is comprised of two liquid chemicals, commonly referred to as Side A and Side B, that are manufactured and applied on-site. Side A has isocyanates, which are chemicals found to cause asthma in workplaces, breathing issues, and skin problems of varying severity. People who work with isocyanates in manufacturing and other industries are required to wear protective equipment to avoid direct contact.
Side B, or the polyol blend, contains proprietary chemicals that are still being researched (its effects are still not fully understood). Different product SPF formulations can result in varied curing times–meaning any cutting or trimming of the foam needs to be performed after it’s fully cured. Otherwise, exposure to unreacted chemicals could spread and cause health problems.
Understanding Safety Regulations
When seeking energy-saving options for your home, it’s important to review all the options available–especially where SPF is concerned–and not to go with a cheap quote or a “quick fix.” That’s because SPF is expensive and a tricky process to apply. Depending on the temperature, mixture rate, weather, temperature, humidity, and type of SPF product used, curing time can fluctuate.
Make sure you’re working with a contractor or company that understands how these factors affect re-entry time into your space. Get multiple quotes, and don’t be afraid to ask for them to list liability insurance or their policy on errors or improper installations in writing and insist on an application of fire retardant as SPF’s are highly flammable.
One surefire way to know the indoor air is safe is to take air samples and tests following an installation. Between quotes, installation, and possible repercussions involved, going the spray foam insulation route can be expensive. In fact, some property insurance companies won’t cover roof damage claims involved with spray foam.
If you smell any foul odors, a “fishy” smell, or feel flu-like symptoms after an installation, seek medical attention immediately. If your sickness is found to have a link to the spray foam insulation, file a report to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission immediately.
Other Energy-Saving Options
There are other ways to save energy in your indoor space that don’t involve harmful chemicals and health risks associated with spray foam insulation. Our Greenstar panels were designed from day one to be people and pet friendly–making it a safe, effective, and permanent solution to cut energy costs. We apply insulation in your attic so heat is reflected and convected out, providing long-term savings that keep you cool all year long.
If you’d like to learn more about our insulation services in Lakeland and the Greater Tampa-St. Pete area, please subscribe to our blog or watch our video on how the panels work.