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Characterization of Emissions from Spray Polyurethane Foam - Final Report to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission



Dustin G. Poppendieck, Mengyan Gong, Steven J. Emmerich


Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation increases building energy efficiency by reducing conductive and convective heat losses through the building envelope and is used in both new construction and retrofit applications. Health complaints relating to emissions from SPF installations have spurned a joint industrial and federal agencies effort to develop standard methods to quantify airborne emissions from SPF. As part of this effort, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) tasked the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) with performing research to assist CPSC staff in making determinations of the potential health impacts of SPF insulation products and provide guidance to consumers on their safe use. Specifically, this effort examined if micro-chamber emission results can be used to determined concentrations in indoor environments and quantified the emissions from a SPF sample that was applied in a potentially non-ideal manner. The data highlight that emissions from SPF are chemical, temperature, flow, and foam type dependent. Micro-chamber data can be used to compare emission profiles from various foams, but micro-chamber emission rates for flame retardants cannot be directly applied to full scale emissions in a building. The results from examining in a residential test home suggest that occupants may be exposed to measureable concentrations of the flame retardant TCPP two years after application of open cell foam. CPSC submitted a SPF sample that may have been applied in a non-ideal manner. When the submitted SPF was tested in the micro-chamber over 17 different chemicals were identified with a spectrum match. The emission rates of six chemicals were quantified from the SPF. More surveys on chemicals emitting from SPF in real buildings are needed to determine if the tested foam is indeed a misapplied foam. Emission rates in this document apply o
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1921
Report Number


Poppendieck, D. , Gong, M. and Emmerich, S. (2017), Characterization of Emissions from Spray Polyurethane Foam - Final Report to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 23, 2024)


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Created September 8, 2017, Updated November 10, 2018