Indoor Air Quality – Setup

Investigation of Spray Foam Insulation Odor/off gassing Sources Using Air Testing Combined with Off-Gas Sampling

Spray foam insulation (SPF) installations can result in odor or Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) complaints by the occupants of the home or building where the installation occurred. When the installation is performed properly with the proper mixing and ratio of Side A (isocyanate) and Side B (polyol), any odor or off gassing associated with the installation will rarely linger for very long.

When misapplication occurs due to improper ratio and/or mixing of Sides A and B, or with improper installation, the odors or off gassing of vapors that can cause health issues may persist for an indefinite time period. In these cases, air testing using thermal desorption tubes or canisters is frequently used to determine if volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are present in the home or business. These tests may not include all of the compounds that can be present in spray foam.

I use a different approach to understanding the source of the VOCs. Air testing is performed in the areas where spray foam insulation installation has occurred, but in addition, off-gas testing of foams and substrates, such as the wood that the SPF has been applied to, has also been tested. Comparison of the VOC results from both air and bulk foam can then determine if the SPF is the source of the odor, and which of these compounds are at a toxic level, if any.

Contact HCF Consulting to answer questions regarding Indoor Air Quality testing: