The most common type of spray foam insulation, was developed and used by the military in the 1940s and applied to airplanes. It wasn't until the 1970s that it started to be used as foam insulation. The vapours that are present when spraying and for a period of time after spraying can have serious health implications if proper protocols aren’t followed. When quality foam is applied in a proper manner, the material stops off-gassing within 24 hours and becomes completely inert.
Spray foam comes in different types. Spray foam insulation can be categorized into two different types: open cell and closed cell.
Open cell foam insulation
Open cell is a type of foam where the tiny cells are not completely closed. Open cell is less expensive because it uses fewer chemicals. It is a very good air barrier but does not provide any type of water vapor barrier. It is much more sponge-like in appearance. It is often used for interior walls because it provides sound reduction by damping the movement of existing insulation. It is not recommended for outdoor applications or where moisture may be present.
Closed cell foam insulation
Closed cell foam insulation is much denser than open cell. It has a smaller, more compact cell structure. It is a very good air barrier as well as a water vapor barrier. It is often used in roofing projects or other outdoor applications, but can be used anywhere in the home.
What are the potential health impacts of sprayfoam vapours?
While being applied and during curing, spray foam emits a gas that can cause blurred vision and trouble breathing. The Isocyanates that are contained in sprayed foam are also in most building products within your home. They are inert once they have cured, however they can be powerful irritants to the eyes, gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts before cured.
Direct skin contact with isocyanates can cause marked inflammation and some people say that their eyes feel like they have sand in them at the onset of problems. Overexposure to isocyanates can sensitize people, making them subject to asthma attacks if they are exposed again. Respiratory irritation may progress to a chemical bronchitis. Future exposures can make the onset easier with less isocyanate needed to start an attack. Sporadic cases of hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) have also been reported in workers exposed to isocyanates. Individuals with acute HP typically develop symptoms 4-6 hours after exposure.
This is why it is so important for anyone working around sprayed foam take the proper precautions to prevent exposure during its application. Quality foams in recent years have nearly eliminated of these problems; however some problems still arise with untested and non-certified foams or when foam is installed improperly. Once cured, a quality foam becomes inert. Alpine has a detailed exposure control plan in place with protocols to protect workers and homeowners from exposure.
Alpine’s Safe Work Protocols and exposure control plan
Alpine Insulation has developed a detailed Exposure Control Plan which outlines all of the environmental health and safety protocols that must be followed by those working with or around the product to avoid negative impacts from its use. This has been submitted to and accepted by WorksafeBC as meeting a standard acceptable to the board. This document is available to any Alpine customer for their review and education. All of Alpine’s spray foam crews have been educated and trained in its content and application. Alpine Insulation Ltd. often cannot restrict or control access to multi-use work areas or private property; however, sprayforam crews post signs identifying the need for respiratory protection, poly off work areas and will not spray if they are aware that an unprotected individual is in close proximity to their work area. It is highly recommended that all homeowners and other trades vacate the area that is being sprayed for a period of 24 hours, until after the product has cured. If a poor quality product is used or is not installed properly, it can off-gas for a much longer period of time. That is why it is so important that customers know that their contractor is using a high quality, certified product in the proper manner.
What we do to ensure safe use and proper application of SPF (Product choice, Third Party Training, Adherence to National Standards, our Quality Assurance Program & Third Party Warranty)
Some benefits of using SPF
THE CANADIAN URETHANE FOAM CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION
COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL APPLICATIONS
MARINE APPLICATIONS SUCH AS BOATS AND DOCKS
EXTERIOR BUILDING ENVELOPE APPLICATIONS