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Home | Spray Foam 411 | California DTSC Update: SPF Misinformation Corrected, Issue Remains Unresolved

California DTSC Update: SPF Misinformation Corrected, Issue Remains Unresolved

The recent efforts of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to list spray foam as a hazardous consumer product reached an important checkpoint in fall of 2014, as a concerted effort by the SPF industry lead to several revisions of misinformation about spray foam.

As highlighted in the May/June 2014 edition of Spray Foam 411, the DTSC presented in March 2014 a draft of the Safer Consumer Products Priority Products Initiative, which aims to reduce toxic chemicals in products consumers buy and use. Included in the Priority Products List were “wet or unreacted” spray polyurethane foam systems, about which the DTSC listed several concerns: isocyanate content, asthma issues, and other health hazards from exposure.

Organizations like the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) were baffled with DTSC’s draft, noting several inaccuracies in their concerns about spray foam, as well as a reluctance to include SPF industry organizations in the drafting process. The SPFA’s stance on the situation was firm, with Executive Director Kurt Riesenberg saying in a press release the draft was, “grossly incorrect and [has] caused irreparable harm to our members and the building industry in the state of California.” Similarly, the ACC advocated in an official press release that the DTSC should have incorporated science-based information from existing sources, including EPA and other agencies.

In response, the SPFA and the ACC worked jointly in correcting the numerous inaccuracies in DTSC’s draft of the Priority Products List by attending subsequent public workshops and submitting letters of revision. After several months of work, DTSC officially corrected spray foam’s Priority Product Profile in October 2014.

The DTSC first addressed the insufficiencies in its knowledge base by removing from the Priority Product File certain reference documents that contributed to the inaccuracies.

The DTSC changed the scope of its actions by revising the definition of Spray Polyurethane Foam Systems. The DTSC narrowed its definition to include only pressurized two-component SPF systems, particularly for insulation and roofing applications. The definition no longer includes roof coatings. Also, one-component canned spray foam systems have been removed from the Scope of Products.

A notable revision related to health concerns is found on page six of the Product Profile, which had previously stated, “diisocyanates are the leading attributable cause of asthma in the workplace.” After a correction by the DTSC, the statement reads, “exposure to diisocyanates in the workplace can cause asthma.”

The DTSC also removed from the scope of Chemical of Concern documentation HDI and TDI, which are not present in two-component SPF systems (though they are present in some elastomeric roof coatings).

The revisions represent an important, albeit minor, victory for the spray foam industry, as the issue hasn’t necessarily been resolved. After the changes were made public, Riesenberg was adamant in an official press release that the industry remained united and unyielding on this issue, saying, “Spray Polyurethane Foam was unjustly selected for the Safer Consumer Products Initiative… it should be de-listed from the DTSC Priority Products Initiative process altogether.”

To get spray foam de-listed, the SPFA and the ACC will have to continue fighting for the industry through 2015. In December 2014, the DTSC announced that the rulemaking process is slated to start just after the New Year. The rulemaking process is projected to take less than a year and will result in the Final Priority Product List. At that point, the DTSC mandates that manufacturers of a Priority Product must conduct Alternative Analyses to limit public exposure to the Chemical of Concern. The DTSC’s final course of action is a Regulatory Response affecting the use of spray foam in California.

Even though some wrongs have been righted, there’s still an uphill battle for the SPFA and the ACC to ensure that spray polyurethane foam isn’t erroneously regulated in California. Spray Foam Magazine will continue to cover this issue as it unfolds throughout 2015.

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