Construction Workplace exposures Skin diseases/disorders Respiratory conditions

NIOSH seeks users of spray polyurethane foam for study


Washington – NIOSH is looking for companies that use spray polyurethane foam to participate in a study about the health effects of occupational exposure to flame retardants.

The foam (also known as SPF) is used as building insulation to improve energy efficiency and contains phosphate, which is a flame retardant, NIOSH states in a blog post.

Spray polyurethane products contain isocyanates – highly reactive chemicals that can irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, according to NIOSH. Exposure to isocyanates also can make workers more susceptible to severe asthma attacks when further exposed. Engineering controls such as ventilation should be used to limit occupational exposure.

The agency in 2012 asked for assistance in obtaining air samples at worksites to study foam insulation. NIOSH has studied tracer gas in laboratories to simulate potential exposures to foam components.

To participate or request more information, contact Cherie Estill, NIOSH industrial hygienist and engineer, at [email protected] or (513) 841-4476.