Spray foam insulation has gained immense popularity in recent years for its exceptional thermal insulation properties and energy-saving benefits. However, alongside its widespread use, concerns have arisen regarding its safety. Is spray foam insulation dangerous? In this article, we will explore the potential risks associated with spray foam insulation and separate fact from fiction to help homeowners make informed decisions about their insulation needs.

Understanding Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation is a modern insulation material that comes in two main types: open-cell and closed-cell. Both types are made by mixing two chemical components, polyol resin, and isocyanate, which react to create an expanding foam that fills gaps and seals spaces, providing an effective barrier against heat transfer. The primary difference between open-cell and closed-cell spray foam lies in their density and insulation properties.

The Potential Concerns

Chemical Ingredients

One of the main concerns surrounding spray foam insulation is the use of chemicals in its production. The two primary components, polyol resin, and isocyanate, can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during the installation process. VOCs can contribute to indoor air pollution and may have adverse health effects.

Fact: While it is true that VOC emissions can occur during the curing process, modern spray foam insulation products have improved significantly in this regard. Reputable manufacturers have developed low-VOC and eco-friendly options that minimize off-gassing. Additionally, proper installation techniques and adequate ventilation can further reduce VOC exposure.

Fire Safety

Another concern is the flammability of spray foam insulation. Some people worry that it may pose a fire hazard, especially when installed in close proximity to electrical wiring or other heat sources.

Fact: Spray foam insulation is fire-resistant and has been tested to meet safety standards. Closed-cell spray foam, in particular, provides an excellent fire barrier and is used in commercial buildings for its fire-resistant properties. However, it’s essential to ensure that the insulation is installed correctly and not left exposed, as the protective covering can contribute to fire resistance.

Health Risks

There have been reports of respiratory and skin issues associated with spray foam insulation installation. Some individuals claim to have experienced irritation, coughing, or even allergic reactions during or after the installation process.

Fact: Health risks are minimal when proper safety precautions are followed. During installation, installers wear protective gear, including respirators and eye protection, to minimize exposure to the chemicals. Homeowners are typically advised to stay out of the area during installation and for a short period afterward. Adequate ventilation is crucial to ensure any residual fumes dissipate quickly. While there may be isolated cases of discomfort, these can often be attributed to inadequate safety measures rather than inherent dangers of spray foam insulation.

Moisture Issues

Spray foam insulation can trap moisture if not installed correctly, potentially leading to mold and mildew growth. Moisture-related problems can compromise indoor air quality and the structural integrity of a building.

Fact: Moisture problems with spray foam insulation are usually the result of improper installation. It’s crucial to hire experienced and certified installers who understand the importance of moisture control. Properly installed spray foam insulation forms an airtight seal, which can actually help prevent moisture infiltration when combined with other moisture control measures.

Structural Concerns

Some homeowners worry that the expansion of spray foam insulation during installation can exert excessive pressure on walls and ceilings, potentially causing structural damage.

Fact: When installed correctly, spray foam insulation expands gradually and exerts minimal pressure on the surfaces to which it adheres. It’s crucial to work with experienced professionals who understand the proper installation techniques to prevent any structural issues.


Is spray foam insulation dangerous? Like many construction materials, it has its considerations and potential risks, but these can be effectively managed through proper installation and safety precautions. When installed correctly, spray foam insulation offers numerous benefits, including superior energy efficiency, reduced heating and cooling costs, and improved indoor comfort.