We are concerned about possible offgassing from spray-foam insulation for a home under construction.

Asked by Kara Palley
Passaic, NJ

We are concerned about possible offgassing from the foam or the solvents used in it. How can we find out more about this?


Rick Goyette

Answered by Rick Goyette

Pawtucket, RI

Emerald Dream Builders

July 21, 2010

Given the focus of a complete built environment it is a valid concern to want to ensure you will not be compromising indoor air quality for energy efficiency. The question of the safety once installed of a product that has such a long list of issues during installation is also pertinent.

There can be an overwhelming amount of information on these topics particularly in the form of message-board debates and blog comments. As with any green product, there are competing industries and just as many competing agendas to make their product a household name and choice for construction professionals and homeowners. Sifting through this information is no small task. Deciding which information is factual, anecdotal, or part of a smear campaign can be a bit daunting.

Given that the spray-foam industry is not new, there is a bit of history and governance that you can review to form your own opinion. The EPA is usually the first place I look as a starting point for health information. Particularly when it comes to air quality issues! Have a look at the EPA website for some information on polyurethane foam.

The information from the EPA site should provide guidance on the safety of the product, which from my determination indicates that spray foam is safe as long as you follow the manufacturer's guidelines and allow enough time before occupancy of the building after the foam is installed.

Let’s not stop there. Another third-party organization that is trusted to provide consumers and tradespeople with health information on building products is the GreenGuard Environmental Institute. They provide product review, testing, and labeling of products that uphold the highest levels of safety in the building materials industry. Choosing a GreenGuard labeled insulation product with an Indoor Air Quality Certificate is a great decision as you've essentially outsourced your research to a trusted and established third party. To find a GreenGuard certified spray-foam product, click here.

Lastly, you want to ensure that installation is done properly. I can recommend a company that I have worked with on two projects in Northern NJ. Coastal Insulation is a well-run, professional organization that can also assist you throughout the decision process. Coastal Insulation can be contacted here.

Best of luck on your project.


For more information:

Check our home foam insulation Q&A to see what questions other homeowners are asking.

Also check our "Buyer’s Guide to Green Insulation" for pros, cons, and application tips for all major insulation materials.

Tagged In: home air quality, spray foam

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