SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 22 February 2017

Flame Retardant Emissions from Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation


The desire to build more energy-efficient homes in the United States has led to the expansion of the residential spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation industry. Upon application of SPF, reacting chemicals form expanding polyurethane foam that fills cracks and gaps, reducing infiltration and thermal conductivity of the building envelope. However, more information is being sought on the chemical emissions from SPF to better understand occupant exposures and any potential impacts on health. The objective of this investigation was to investigate the emission of flame retardant tris(1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TCPP) from SPF using both microchambers and a full-scale residential test facility. Two high-pressure open-cell foams and one high-pressure closed-cell foam were tested using microchambers. After 100 h, TCPP concentrations from the open-cell samples were 100 times higher than TCPP concentrations from the closed-cell SPF. TCPP emissions from open-cell foam were found to correlate exponentially with temperature and vary with flow rate, indicating emission factors from SPF microchamber experiments may not directly predict TCPP concentrations in buildings without consideration of material mass transfer properties. Due to the use of TCPP in furniture, SPF has not previously been positively identified as a primary source of indoor TCPP concentrations in actual buildings. This research measured airborne TCPP concentrations in the furniture-free National Institute of Standards and Technology Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF) that contained 15 m2 of exposed 2-year-old open-cell SPF. The measured NZERTF TCPP emission rates were not directly predicted by emission factors from the microchamber measurements, which suggests a mass transfer-based modeling approach is needed for predicting TCPP concentrations from open-cell SPF. More research is needed to determine how data from microchamber studies can be used to predict exposures of residential occupants to emissions from SPF foam.

Author Information

Poppendieck, Dustin
National Institute of Standards and Technology, Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation Group, Energy and Environment Division, Engineering Laboratory, Gaithersburg, MD, US
Schlegel, Matthew
Drexel University, Materials Science and Engineering Dept., Philadelphia, PA, US
Connor, Angelica
Drexel University, Materials Science and Engineering Dept., Philadelphia, PA, US
Blickley, Adam
Drexel University, Materials Science and Engineering Dept., Philadelphia, PA, US
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Developed by Committee: D22
Pages: 57–76
DOI: 10.1520/STP158920150044
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-7624-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-7623-2