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Session 4C - Rhode Island Room

October 30, 2023 @ 1:15-2:15pm

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Investigation of Spray Foam Insulation Odors and Air Quality Problem Sources Using Air Testing Combined with Bulk Foam Off-Gas Sampling

Henri Fennell, Consultant, HC Fennell Consulting, LLC, North Thetford, VT

About this program:

Spray foam insulation (SPF) installations frequently result in odor and/or IAQ complaints by the occupants of the home or building where the installation has occurred. When the installation is performed properly with the correct mixing and ratio of Side A (isocyanate) and Side B (polyol), any vapors associated with the installation will rarely off gas for more than a few days.

However, when misapplication occurs, the off gassing may persist for an indefinite period of time and the foam may perform as insulation but the odor and/or air quality health issues will not be acceptable to the owner. In these cases, air testing using thermal desorption tubes or canisters is frequently the only testing performed to determine the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in the home or business, usually using industry-standard test protocols (TO-15, etc.).

In this presentation, a different approach will be described for determining the source of the suspected SPF VOCs. Air testing is performed in the areas where a spray foam installation has occurred, but in addition, off-gas tests of bulk foam and substrate materials, such as wood, have also been tested. Comparison of the VOC results from both air and bulk foam/substrate materials can then determine if the SPF is the source of the volatile compounds, and if their concentrations in the air exceed the permissible exposure levels.

Learning Goals:

By attending this session, attendees will:

• Be introduced to how SPF can be misapplied and identified

• Learn how to collect samples for these test

• Be introduced to how air test results are compared to bulk foam off-gassing test results to prove causation

About the Presenter:

Henri Fennell is a building envelope specialist and architect with forty-five years of experience in energy conservation design, manufactured products, and services. His work with polyurethane foam began during the energy crisis of the 1970s.

His experience has included practicing architect and building envelope remediation and commissioning consultant. Major historic projects include the Guggenheim Museum. He has designed several new micro-load buildings, including a cutting-edge net-zero energy research structure in Antarctica.

For the last ten years he has developed and implemented remediation plans and standards for misapplied foam projects.

He has four energy-related U.S. patents, and has contributed to ASTM standards, ASHRAE Journal, and is often cited in articles related to energy conservation and building performance.

Program Level:



Content Area(s):

Recommissioning/commissioning of buildings for both health and energy

Investigation and remediation of IAQ problems

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