Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is being used as an energy efficient means of home insulation. SPF decreases air infiltration from the outside and provides increased insulation, reducing carbon emission rates and energy demand. However, if SPF is applied improperly, the result can be poor indoor air quality. Reportedly, personal injury claims have been made regarding improper SPF application.
The chemicals used in SPF can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, skin, and respiratory tract. In addition, SPF chemical exposure has been linked to neurological complications including concentration and memory problems. Exposure to SPF can occur by dermal contact or inhalation immediately after application. However, through the process of “off-gassing,” exposure can also occur after the initial application.
According to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warning, “exposures to its key ingredient, isocyanates such as ‘MDI,’ and other SPF chemicals that may be found in vapors, aerosols, dust or on surfaces during and for a period of time after installation may cause adverse health effects such as asthma.” The EPA also lists sensitization, skin and eye irritation, lung damage, and other breathing and respiratory problems as potential adverse health effects of SPF chemicals.
The EPA also states that improper application of SPF can cause chemical contaminants to migrate to soft and/or hard surfaces in other parts of the treated building. In addition, the EPA notes that the removal of SPF may not resolve problems and may, in fact, create additional problems. Furthermore, there are currently no standard accepted remediation and/or removal practices for SPF of which the EPA is aware.
Recently, a suit was filed against an SPF-certified installer and manufacturer. Reportedly, the Pennsylvania federal court refused to dismiss the claims for negligence, unjust enrichment, statutory consumer protection laws violations, and breach of implied warranty, despite the defendant’s motion.
The court did dismiss the count of negligent supervision brought against the installer and the plaintiffs’ claims for medical monitoring. However, both of these dismissals were done without prejudice, which allows the plaintiffs to re-assert or amend the claims with additional fact pleading.
Homeowners who suffered eye, nose, skin, and respiratory tract irritation, asthma, or neurological complications may be eligible to recover damages or compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.