Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation is the fastest growing segment of the building insulation market. This growth rate is due in part to government regulations mandating more energy efficient structures.
SPF insulation has characteristics that make it unique among building products. In particular, SPF insulation is made onsite in a building by reacting two chemical mixtures. As the chemicals react, an expanding foam is created. Initial curing occurs rapidly to form a rigid product. The foam provides insulation properties and creates an air infiltration and moisture barrier. The two chemical components are an “A” side typically comprised of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) and polymeric methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (pMDI) and a "B" side that is a mixture of polyols, catalysts, blowing agent, flame retardant, and surfactants. Professional applications of open-cell and closed-cell SPF insulation are performed by trained workers using a high-pressure spray system and wearing personal protective equipment. SPF manufacturers typically provide guidance on building ventilation and other engineering controls during spraying, worker re-entry times following applications and, in the case of occupied buildings, re-occupancy times for residents and the general population.
Because the product is produced onsite with highly reactive chemicals there are concerns about potential chemical exposures. The U.S. EPA discusses potential exposures, factors that may influence exposures and how consumers can reduce exposure risks. To better understand the curing times for SPF insulation and to investigate potential off gassing of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from SPF insulation, the EPA recommends product testing using CDPH Standard Method V1.1. The EPA also acknowledges that the full spectrum of chemical emissions from SPF insulation is not well characterized and that more research is needed on this topic. In the U.S., ASTM Subcommittee D22.05 on indoor air is working to develop several new testing methods for VOCs, amine catalysts, and isocyanates from SPF insulation.
Manufacturers and other companies can address a number of potential consumer concerns about chemical off gassing from SPF insulation by testing these products for VOC emissions. Berkeley Analytical (BkA) provides several VOC emissions testing options for SPF insulation:
Contact us to discuss your testing requirements for SPF insulation and to request a quote.