Arnhem, the Netherlands - A small number of householders are becoming sensitised to isocyanates following application of spay foam insulation to their houses, said Dr Atien Verschoor, project leader at Expertiese Centre Environmental Medicine (ECEM).
ECEM is an occupational health centre at the Hospital Rijinstate, Arnhem, the Netherlands.
Verschoor has seen 40 people who have exhibited sensitivity to isocyanates. These people came from houses which had been insulated using polyurethane spray foams. "It takes people a lot of time to come to us," she said, "People don't recognise the symptoms, their doctors don't recognise the symptoms."
She explains that they were in the houses while spraying occurred and typically have shortness of breath, irritations to the mouth and upper airways. For most people who suffer these symptoms they get better with time, she says, but a few become sensitised to Isocyanates, she said.
ISOPA, a European isocyanate, and polyol producers association said it was aware of the problem and was helping downstream Dutch trade associations to introduce training and certification programmes to improve the performance of spray foam applicators in the Netherlands.
Jorg Palmersheim, ISOPA, secretary general, told UTI in a 6 March telephone call that his organisation had great sympathy for the people affected. He added that it was due to applicators "not following safety guidelines" and spraying while people were still in the homes. He stressed that polyurethane spray foam is a safe application with around 10,000 houses treated each year for around 30 years.
"We started an action programme three months ago in the Netherlands," he said. This will see training and certification rolled out across the country from April.