However, its key ingredient, isocyanates such as MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate), and other SPF chemicals are highly reactive chemicals and dermal or respiratory exposure to these compounds, can cause adverse health effects such as: contact dermatitis, skin, eye and respiratory tract irritation, asthma, sensitization, lung damage, respiratory and breathing problems. Isocyanates have been reported to be the leading attributable chemical cause of work-related asthma.
Sensitization due to exposure to isocyanates can trigger severe and potentially deadly asthma attacks if re-exposed even at very low concentrations.
When SPF (Spray Polyurethane Foam) is applied, both the ingredients and the byproducts of the process involve potentially toxic emissions.
In addition to the presence of MDI in the product, the chemical reaction and curing of SPF can produce other chemicals of concern: aldehydes, amine catalysts, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
In 1996, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued an alert, following reports of disease and deaths following occupational exposure to diisocyanates.
Data from recent studies indicate that cancer is associated with exposure to commercial-grade TDI (toluene diisocyanate), the results meeting the OSHA criteria for classifying a substance as a potential carcinogen.
The carcinogenic effects of isocyanates were also investigated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), both organizations reaching the same conclusion: isocyanates should be treated as potential human carcinogens.
In the recent years a steep increase in the number of complaints about adverse health effects from homeowners and occupants of office buildings where SPF has been applied prompted national and local agencies to take a variety of actions to address risks posed by exposure to isocyanates.
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