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Characterization of Emissions from a Non-Ideal Spray Polyurethane Foam Sample



Dustin G. Poppendieck, Mengyan Gong, Lauren E. Lawson, Steven J. Emmerich


Many homeowners and government programs are using insulating products, such as SPF, at a growing rateto increase the energy efficiency of their residences and other constructed buildings. Retrofitting or addition of foam insulation in new construction is also supported in the United States by Federal efforts, such as tax incentives, and programs like Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star and Design for the Environment. Because of these programs and other drivers for more efficient buildings, the insulation foam industry expects significant growth in the use of their products over the next few years. , SPF is used as both an insulation and a sealant. It is formed onsite via an exothermic chemical reaction between A-side and B-side chemicals and. The A-side typically consists of monomeric or polymeric methylene diphenyl diisocyanate. Polyols are part of the B-side chemicals, which also include amine and/or metal catalysts, blowing agents, surfactants, and flame retardants. Amine and/or metal catalysts are used to promote the reaction between polyols and A-side chemicals, which help polyurethane foam cells develop sufficient strength to maintain their structure and resist collapsing. CPSC, along with EPA and other federal agencies, has received a number of complaints regarding health effects resulting from the installation of SPF in homes. Residents have complained about a multitude of adverse effects including severe respiratory irritation, breathing difficulties, dizziness and nausea. In some cases, the reported effects are so severe that consumers report that they can no longer live in their homes. These health effects are reported to occur several days to months following the SPF installation in the home.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 8131
Report Number


Poppendieck, D. , Gong, M. , Lawson, L. and Emmerich, S. (2016), Characterization of Emissions from a Non-Ideal Spray Polyurethane Foam Sample, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed February 25, 2024)
Created October 17, 2016, Updated November 10, 2018