Spray Foam: Is It Safe?

All about spray foam

Spray foam safety comes down to installation. Proper installation should result in good product that does not off-gas, poor installations can have very toxic outcomes. Instructions for proper installation of spray foam

Closed cell foam has some excellent characteristics and can provide important air sealing and insulation properties. I have used spray foam in my house for certain areas where it provides lots of bang for the buck. Educated oversight seems to be required though, since I have also read about some off-gassing horror stories, although thankfully, I have not experienced any myself.

Watch the Dangers of Spray Foam Insulation

Causes of spray foam problems

  1. Chemicals or product is poor quality 
  2. Uneducated application, 
  3. Poor design or planning incomplete 
  4. Incomplete or inadequate processing of chemicals 
  5. Poor Installation procedures (before, during, and after) 

Avoiding problems 

  1. Find quality manufacturers 
  2. Implement best practices for applications and designs 
  3. Fault-protection quality assurance for processing equipment 
  4. Use only qualified installers /contractors 
  5. Require a proven product 
  6. Verify the compatibility between products and substrates 
  7. Assure that designs and plans consider building science principles for the application 
  8. Understand all applicable standards and ensure they are incorporated 
  9. No ASTM standards to follow 
  10. Qualified architects/engineers must require and specify project standards 
  11. Understand Manufacturer’s recommendations and ensure compliance by all involved 

General contractor and owner responsibilities 

  1. Select a qualified installer. 
  2. Select the right product for the application. 
  3. Prepare, and protect the substrate before work begins – Ensure proper site protection 
  4. Maintain proper conditions during installation 
  5. Maintain proper conditions during cure period 
  6. Protect the work after the installation and during curing 

Installer responsibilities 

  1. Prepare the site properly and provide engineering controls before beginning the installation. 
  2. Comply with manufacturer’s instructions. Clarify and confirm requirements and tolerances. 
  3. Process the materials in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions – verify & document 
  4. Install the materials in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions 
  5. Understand and comply with post-installation project requirements and protocols

More information on spray foam

Spray Foam FAQ

How Can Something So Toxic Be So ‘Green’?

‘Green’ Spray Foam Can Be Filling Your Home with Toxic Chemicals?

Fine Homebuilding Magazine – “Makers of Spray Foam Named in Law Suits”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Info

Get your questions answered!

Cheryl Ciecko, AIA, ALA, LEED AP, is a licensed architect who helps homeowners and building professionals create safe homes through online education to prevent mold, water damage, and poor indoor air quality. You can find her video masterclasses, online programs, and education subscription options at https://avoidingmold.com/education .

For detailed answers on your specific situation or building project, schedule your appointment for an individual consultation.


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The information contained in this presentation is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe, treat, or cure any disease, ailment or injury to the body. It is not medical advice. FDA regulations prohibit the use of medical claims in conjunction with the sale of any product not approved by the FDA. Statements made herein have not been evaluated by the FDA. 

Any products, techniques, and/or personal usage tips referred to are not suggested as a replacement for proper treatment from a licensed health care professional. I am not a licensed health care professional and the decision to use or not to use any of this information is the sole responsibility of the listener and/or reader. Everyone is an individual with different body types, different blood types, different body chemistries, and it is important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another person.