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California’s test case misplaces priority by targeting energy-efficient spray foam


It would seem that the motto of the state of California was in full force yesterday when the Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) announced, almost with fanfare, how very happy they were to name the first three products to serve as a “test case” for a new Safer Consumer Products Regulation.

But, in what has many scratching their heads, the agency is taking aim at an incredibly important product that will save energy for the state and consumers: spray polyurethane foam.

This California program has been in the works for seven years, with the idea that it would determine if there are certain chemicals in consumer products that would be better removed.

And, that may be where good intentions took a bad turn in Sacramento.

By including spray polyurethane foam on their test list, California is likely to confuse contractors and consumers and endanger a key resource in the battle to protect the environment and improve energy efficiency in our homes and offices.

When spray polyurethane foam is used to insulate a home or office, it can help save money on energy bills, reduce drafts and increase the efficiency of the heating or cooling system. Spray polyurethane foam is popular because of its ease of use and its very high efficiency. It resists heat transfer better than many other insulation materials, with R-values typically in the range of 3.5 – 6.5 per one inch of thickness (R-value is a term used to rate an insulation’s ability to resist conductive heat transfer).

That’s why many industry organizations, including ACC and its member companies, will continue to express strong concerns about California’s path forward.

We will be active partners in talking about the many product stewardship activities we already have underway, and we will continue to point to the collaborative work with multiple federal regulatory agencies that are addressing the issues DTSC has identified as drivers. We will also work to correct the inaccurate information that the agency included as background material on their website. EPA has stated in their chemical action plan that cured isocyanates are considered to be inert and non-toxic, which is the case once spray polyurethane foam is cured.

We intend to protect spray polyurethane foam as the state begins the process to consider the elimination of spray polyurethane foam, containing unreacted or “wet” diisocyanates.

Consumers can and should continue to rely on spray polyurethane foam to help maximize the energy efficiency of buildings where they live, work and play.


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