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Have others experienced odor problems with Demilec Agribalance spray foam? Is this toxic?

Michael Courtney | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

My wife and I have built a two story cape style house made from SIPs with the attic roof sprayed with Demilec Agribalance spray foam on an unvented roof and unvented attic. Two months later now in mid July (upstate NY), we still have a smell in the house, mainly on the second floor. It seems to maybe get worse on hotter days. We just moved in about a week ago. We’ve kept fans in the windows pulling fresh air in 24 hours a day on the second floor. If we stop the fans at all, a strong smell returns within an hour or two. The odor is clearly related to the foam. There were a few weeks before the drywall was installed that the windows were generally left open for ventilation. I was hoping with the drywall it would block it off, but it’s still quite strong. I’m worried about when we close the house up in the fall that this will really be a problem, or even may be a problem as is. It’s preventing the use of air conditioning and closing up the house in the day time to keep it cool (why we installed foam in the first place!). We do have an HRV, but it’s not fully online yet. I don’t think the HRV would provide amount of fresh air flow we’re getting with large fans in the windows anyway. I’m very concerned because my wife is 8 weeks pregnant and we don’t want this to cause any problems. For now she’s sleeping by the window where fresh air comes in.

How do I know if this is toxic? Will the smell go away? How long will it take? If it doesn’t go away, what can be done?!

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Replies

  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Michael,
    Here at GBA, we regularly get reports of homeowners complaining that the smell of recently installed spray foam lingers for weeks or months. I have no way of knowing whether these cases represent 0.1% of installations, or 1% of installations, or 10% of installations. (That last number seems doubtful).

    The brand of spray foam insulation generating the most complaints about lingering odors, by far, is Demilec.

  2. Bob Coleman | | #2

    obviously working with the foam spraying company when the smell was first noticed would have been key

    and does sleeping by a window help if that is where all the toxic smell escapes?

  3. ROBERT L NISWONGER JR | | #3

    Michael , I too was pregnant when the terrible odors were very present in our home. I was terrified my son is now 8 months old and Demilec still is giving is the run around blaming it on everything else but the source of the problem - THE TOXIC SPRAY FOAM INSULATION- Would love to talk more about this. Rebecca Niswonger

  4. ROBERT L NISWONGER JR | | #4

    Spray foam news report worth checking out:
    This is the first in Todd's investigation, stay tuned...
    http://www.wftv.com/video/28588604/index.html

  5. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #5

    Robert,
    It's an interesting report, but it's too bad that the Florida journalists confused "installing Demilec foam" with "going green" -- as if the two phrases were synonymous....

  6. John Brooks | | #6

    Rotting Roofs, Odors, Off-Gassing, FIRES, ... Holy Cow

    Is it hysteria or a sign of things to come?
    True that it seems to be caused by poor and or not-so-perfect installation

    Still it makes you wonder.......maybe Not-So-Foamy would be better

  7. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #7

    I just updated my file.

    20 people have contacted GBA complaining of lingering odor problems after the installation of spray foam.

    15 of those people identified the brand of spray foam that caused the problem.

    10 out of 15 people naming a brand said that Demilec foam was causing the problem.

    The remaining 5 brands: 2 were BASF, 1 was Bayer Bayseal, 1 was Icynene, and 1 was Tripolymer.

  8. John Smith | | #8

    I have an environmental concern about Demilec USA, 2925 Galleria Drive, Arlington, 76011.
    I am a chemical services and salesperson in N. Texas, with 20+ years’ experience and in direct dealing with Demilec and several of their former employees, I have learned that they operate their chemical plant (10+ years) without any permits or reporting-no air, storm water, waste permits, Tier ll, SARA lll, waste minimization plan, TSCA, Process Safety Management, etc.
    This is not of ignorance, rather the owners and managers believe they will not be investigated so they will not act unless they are caught and forced to comply. They even brag about this.
    This chemical plant has an outside bulk tank farm and handles corrosives, sensitizers, marine pollutants, poisonous, amine, isocyanates, brominated, chlorinated and chlorofloro (bulk Freon) compounds. And the chemical plant backs up to a rail line and a storm water run-off directly to a creek.
    They dispose of used chemical drums by allowing people to pick up empty drums, with no manifest/records for proper disposition and or disposal.
    Further, they are constructing a new chemical reaction plant to make polyols; using catalysts, caustics, flammables, peroxides and will be generating process and fugitive air emissions & mixed waste streams-acids, caustics, polluted water and mixed glycols & what else? Construction is underway, equipment & bulk tanks are on site, some have been sitting outside for weeks and they have not made any public notice for air permit hearings or anything.
    I feel it is my responsibility under Responsible Care and as an effected citizen, to make the TCEQ aware of this matter and to ask for immediate action and sanctions, including a stoppage at this facility, against this company. Too many companies try to do the right thing; I do not feel this one of them. Demilec USA is a big, profitable company and is additionally supported by their Canadian parent company; they have the means to be compliant, they willfully are not.
    I must protect my family and my job; however I would like to follow this case.

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