Spray Foam Insulation - Chemical burns

During the final inspection of a home on Wed. 12/09/15, I placed my hands between HVAC duct and foam insulation on the roof deck. My purpose was to demonstrate to the client that, because there was direct contact, condensate might form between the two.

Subsequently, my hands began to itch, swell and blister. What I initially thought might be poison ivy, now appears to be a chemical burn. These pictures were taken Sun 12/13/15, five days later.

Has anyone else experienced this, or seen anything similar?

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Never had that happen maybe it was not mixed well.



Never seen the before. That is bad news. Seek medical attention. Thanks for sharing. Let us know what it actually is.

I assume that you were conducting a final inspection on a new home build, or no?

There are certain mixture and temperature requirements that installers have to adhere to or you can get volatile off-gassing during the curing phase, which apparently is around 48 hours.

I doubt that you would be at a phase in the building cycle to be there within that time frame, but if you were that could explain your reaction. Also, is it possible that the part A mixture was done incorrectly? The main ingredient in part A is Isocyanate, which if you come into contact with has rash like symptoms/side-effects.

This could be an important question to pass along if so, as there is anecdotal evidence that some home owners have developed issues with their spray-foamed home’s.

When properly cured and installed, there does not, as of yet, appear to be an actionable concern with open-cell spray foam, so forming a chemical burn would suggest an improper installation I suppose.

Hope all is well.

The blisters and rash are getting larger and have spread up my arms. My hands are swollen and it itches like 3 kinds of cuss words!

Yes, Charles, it was the final inspection of new construction. It had been at least 4 weeks since the application of the foam. As to whether it was mixed correctly, who knows. One big marshmallow covered roof deck looks like another.

The medical consensus is that this was a reaction to the chemicals. Steroids that have been prescribed should give relief. Soon, I hope. Now, I’m given to understand that after this acute reaction, I will hereafter be sensitive to these chemicals.

Mask and gloves, folks. Mask and gloves. After this reaction, it will be a full face mask and filters…and likely a Tyvek suit.

Also, I will never allow a client in this kind of attic with me (and I discourage them in any attic)! Here is one more product that we inspect which is approved, but is already known to cause health problems. One more CYA comment to compose for the report!

Ouch it looks sore. Hope all goes well.

Am sorry for the deficiencies you are incurring Clay. During extensive research on SPF the following stand out;
-most SFP recipes are proprietary
-CDC and EPA are concerned about off gassing over time
-four weeks is absolutely sufficient curing time
-materials do get approved which are not sufficiently tested, in fact the testing agencies are begining to look less and less ‘arms length’

We pray that you have a full recovery from this terrible event. I have touched this stuff many times and will be careful NOT to touch it anymore with gloves. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for sharing that was a hard and painful way to obtain information for everyone about spray foam. This profession has many hazards no one thinks of until pow it hits. Hope all is well for you when it comes to opening presents on Christmas.

Wow. Hope this all clears up for you Clay. That really looks uncomfortable. Please keep us updated. Merry Christmas!

Good information, but terrible news about your reaction, Clay.

I stopped doing P&B crawls 5 years ago as I was tired of the potential intake of Lord knows what from those spaces. Yes, I work protective gear, but enough was enough.

Now … I’ll likely be adding a “do not go” or at least “avoid” area to my inspections … those with spray foam attics.

Giving this more thought … maybe I “will” officially not renew next spring. Time will tell for sure.