SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 22 February 2017

Prioritizing Chemical Emissions from Closed-Cell Spray Polyurethane Foam: Utilizing Micro-Scale Chamber Emission Factors and Field Measurement Data


We conducted field and laboratory chamber studies in March 2013 to assess airborne concentrations of chemicals emitted from a rigid closed-cell medium-density spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation material. For the field study, SPF was installed by high-pressure spray application in the main attic and in four smaller crawlspaces of a home built in 1975. The field study involved the collection of area air samples in the home before, during, and after SPF application. We also evaluated chemical emissions from SPF using laboratory micro-scale chambers specifically optimized to evaluate postspray chemical emissions from SPF. Micro-scale chambers are a common tool used by labs to assess volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from a source, and standard test methods are being developed by ASTM specifically for SPF. To prioritize VOC emissions from SPF, a simple well-mixed, single-zone box model and the emission factors generated from a micro-scale chamber study were used to evaluate the screening-level VOC airborne concentration in the home. These screening-level values were then compared to air sampling data obtained during the field study. For two VOCs that were the predominant chemicals emitted from the SPF, the airborne VOC concentrations were within an order of magnitude between modeling and actual field measurement at Days 7 and 28. This study indicates that emission factors obtained through micro-scale chamber testing together with a screening-level model could serve as a prioritization tool in evaluating indoor VOC airborne concentrations for SPF applications. More sophisticated models are needed to better characterize emission mechanisms, indoor fate, transport, and airborne concentration of all chemicals, including semivolatile VOCs that may be emitted from SPF.

Author Information

Ecoff, Scott
Covestro LLC, Pittsburgh, PA, US
Tian, Shen
Covestro LLC, Pittsburgh, PA, US
Sebroski, John
Covestro LLC, Pittsburgh, PA, US
Price: $25.00
Contact Sales
Reprints and Permissions
Reprints and copyright permissions can be requested through the
Copyright Clearance Center
Developed by Committee: D22
Pages: 98–118
DOI: 10.1520/STP158920150034
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-7624-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-7623-2