Extraction Policy

When considering having spray foam insulation installed in your building, it is important to understand the associated risks. Spray Foam Insulation is manufactured in-situ by the installer which means the chemicals used to create the Polyurethane are processed by the installer at your premises. In their raw format, the chemicals contain isocyanates, amines, surfactants, fire-retardants and catalysts that can cause respiratory aggravation when the appropriate personal or respiratory protective equipment is not used. When Spray foam insulation is applied using high-pressure application equipment, some component chemicals may be present in the form of aerosol mists and vapours over or at levels that could be harmful to some individuals.

Once installed, the polyurethane spray foam insulation cures to an inert state (when installed in 50:50 ratio), and should pose no risk to health, however, as with any paint or chemical spraying process, there are vapours in the air during the process and for several hours afterwards. Our Polyurethane spray foam systems do not contain dangerous HFCs or VOCs and utilise the latest in water-based HFO blowing agents.

We have created this document to detail the recommend processes for property occupiers and the approved installation technicians during and after the installation of spray foam insulation. We accept no liability for the actions of approved installers and we do not take any responsibility for the safety of building owners and occupants. The information contained in this document is for guidance only and you should always conduct your own research.

The manufacturer recommends that during and immediately after the installation of spray foam insulation, the installation zone is not occupied for a period of up to 24 hours. This is a default stance to maximise the protection of occupants.

It may be possible to reduce the re-occupancy times of the installation zone provided the building owner and occupants are aware of the process and associated risks.

Work Zone Containment

  • Installers should endeavour to contain aerosol vapours and mists to the work-zone by sealing protective non-penetrable plastic sheeting over doors, loft hatches, windows, ventilation systems and any other openings.
  • Ventilation systems such as MVHRs and PIVs should be switched off.
  • Cold water storage tanks should be well sealed.
  • Any other plant and machinery should be protected and sealed.
  • Where applicable, warning signs prohibiting entry should be placed immediately outside the work-zone.

Air Supply & Extraction

  • Use an air extraction unit capable of extracting up to 3600m3 of air per hour which is the equivalent of 72 air changes per hour in 50m2 of space.
  • Release exhaust air to a location outside the building away from occupied areas to protect occupants and workers in adjacent areas from potential exposure.
  • Exhaust air should also be positioned away from building air inlets so that contaminated air is not drawn back (or if upwind, blown) into the building.
  • Extract during and after installation to maximise vapour/mist release from the installation zone.
  • Once installation is complete, use a secondary supply fan to pressurise the installation zone whilst maintaining extraction for up to 60 minutes.

Air Quality Testing

  • Use an Isocyanate detection strip in the area immediately outside the sealed installation work-zone.
  • Periodically check the detection strips to ensure there are no increased levels of Isocyanates that reach the occupied living areas.
  • Once installation is complete and supply and extract air continues, use a HCHO Air Quality Monitor to detect any increased readings in the installation zone and occupied living areas.
  • Document and record evidence to show that levels of HCHO and Isocyanates are not at harmful levels in occupied living areas.
  • Where readings breach the required parameters, ensure occupants vacate any adjoining occupied living areas until air quality returns to normal.

Installation Inspection

  • Customers or occupants may wish to inspect the completed work. Ensure that they are wearing the appropriate RPE/PPE to enter the contained work-zone.
  • Advise customers or occupants that they enter contained work-zones at their own risk.
  • Request that the customer or occupants provide written acknowledgement that they accept the air quality in the living areas is suitable for occupation upon handover of the building.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I remain in the house during the installation?

We strongly recommend that you remain at least 15 metres away from the zone during the installation either outdoors or in the furthest room (with doors closed) away from the installation. You should check to ensure that the installer has taken the appropriate actions to seal contain the work/installation zone and that they have implemented extraction of potentially vapour-rich air. If you can smell vapours, identify mist or feel unwell, you should immediately exit any occupied areas.

Does the extraction supersede the requirement to remain out of the property for 24 hours?

The extraction policy is to help speed up the extraction of any vapours that may linger in the air during and immediately after the installation. Our research shows that the capability of the extraction units means that any vapour-rich air is rapidly vented externally to the property. It is entirely at your discretion as to whether you accept the extraction process in lieu of remaining out of the property. The installer should use detection instruments to identify the air quality and presence of harmful gases in occupied living areas. The manufacturers guidance of 24 hours is based upon a safe timescale which ensures any lingering vapours can escape.

Are the chemicals harmful to my health?

Any chemical can be harmful to health if it enters your respiratory system. This includes paints, cleaning fluids and other household chemicals. The chemicals that are mixed to create the Polyurethane spray foam can harm health when ingested and this is why we recommend a belt and braces approach to managing health and safety during and after the installation. The actual risk to you and any other occupants is very low and many people experience no dangerous side effects from a spray foam insulation installation.

How do I know that the installer is using the extraction system?

Any ThermoFoam approved installer should be happy to show you the extraction equipment setup before they start the installation process. You are within your rights to check this has been setup correctly with the ducting vented through a window or door before works commence. If the installer does not have an extraction unit in place, you are be within your rights to pause the installation until extraction is setup correctly. If you encounter a ThermoFoam-approved contractor who doesn’t carry the correct equipment and doesn’t follow the extraction policy, we would like to hear from you.

Should I be worried if I didn’t follow the guidance?

We live around harmful vapours, gases, toxins and pollutants every single day and it is always wise to minimise exposure. It is always important to inform occupants of potential risks during the spray foam insulation process. Unless you experience illness, headaches or nausea during or after the installation, there is unlikely to be any cause for concern and no reason to consult health professionals. Any occupants who are sensitive to respiratory illness or have a known condition should remain away from the installation zone and associated occupied areas for up to 24 hours.