[Apologies in advance for readability – my paragraph breaks did not work in finished version]
Through a State/Federal low-income Weatherization program administered by DuPage County (Illinois) Health and Human Services, I qualified for assistance in the form of HVAC & other appliance replacement, and insulation/weatherstripping of my 80-year-old home. Though the appliance replacement is not yet complete, on approximately February 7th an employee of Healthy Air Heating and Air, the contractor hired by DuPage HHS, applied spray polyurethane foam insulation from a tank mix to resident facing surfaces in my basement, and my bedroom, in such a way that it is not only unsightly and a physical obstruction to other planned work, but apparently, due to off gassing, is continually generating foul and acrid odors – which after researching I believe are likely toxic, and the source of some of the continual respiratory symptoms, and even a rash at one point, that I’ve developed since.
In addition to the off gassing, the insulation was sprayed ONLY in resident facing areas, not behind walls. It has been installed on a variety of untreated and unprepared substrates including painted concrete, painted wood, unpainted brick, painted brick, electrical conduit, water pipes, gas lines, OVER CURTAIN RODS actually plastering them in place, on and around window frames, and even on the main electrical service box covering the outgoing lines from the circuits and splattered over the rest of it.
Because no protection of adjacent areas or containment was put into place, overspray – from particles to larger pieces has also overlapped onto shelving, washer and dryer, floors, walls, and various other items. In the bedroom – which was declared off limits to any work multiple times, and in which this product should never have been sprayed, I had a floor-to-ceiling section of plaster on lathe and brick wall left as an open cut out by an electrical contractor after installing n additional outlet, which I was to be closing up as part of a plaster wall repair and painting project which was in progress during the weatherization work. And which has since been completed save for the cutout – which has foam billowing several inches above both wall and ceiling level and including the outlet and a power cord plugged into it.
The contractor made a comment at the time of his installation about the odor, and that it may smell for 24 hours or so. I only learned after later research later that the requirement is that residents are not present in the home for at least 24 hours after installation – and that would be IF the product is mixed and installed correctly. And that it is the contractor’s onus to provide the resident with full safety protocols and written information about the products including manufacturer’s tear sheets and MSDS for all products used. I received none of this verbally or in writing – in fact I did not know the spray was going to be applied and in what manner and scope, until several minutes prior, when the other members of the team were trying to fine tune the results on the electronic test they were performing with a contraption that fit over my front door. Furthermore, I did not know they had sprayed in my bedroom, where I live and sleep, until AFTER the crew had left.
It is already apparent visually that the product was not installed correctly, and it will likely become apparent after testing whether or not it was mixed correctly, and based on the entirety of this mess I am uncertain of the level of training and/or certification of the employee that the contractor supplied. Or even of the actual qualification of the contractor firm itelf to perform this work. I once had an unfinished basement with great potential and had explored several possibilities of how it may be completed, now I have a basement (and bedroom) that are unsightly, toxic hazards, where any plans to complete new work and add to the value of my home have likely been destroyed by a contactor’s malfeasance.
The implications are SERIOUS in this VERY COMPLEX situation and may even impact the livability of my home or its actual suitability for occupancy. And remediation of all the damage could produce additional hazards, is not guaranteed to eliminate all VOCs because of the since impacted condition of the many substrates, would need to be performed by a company certified in this type of hazard mitigation, could not be done while I occupy the home requiring off-site living arrangements, and at the minimum would likely cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. So, the impact on the livability and/or salability of my valued home remains to be seen.
I’ve spoken with local Environmental firms about conducting the VOC testing, and also exploring firms that can test the physical properties of the mixed result, and am also notifying the State of Illinois – after my status check and notification (that included many photos) to DuPage County HHS on March 5th produced no response from the lead contact person there. Also responding to State as follow up to a June 28th call FROM DuPage County HHS asking to schedule a final inspection, but stating that had no knowledge of my March inquiry, in which told the representative the work was not yet complete AND I had not received a response to my May 5th status check. I assured the representative that there will be no final inspection until both the work and the necessary remediation are complete.
I hereby invite the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission and/or its representatives, including the NIST team who authored the report “Characterization of Emissions from a Non-Ideal Spray Polyurethane Foam Sample” (Letter Report to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Interagency Agreement CPSC-I-13-0016 MOD 1 (which I have read) to inspect the installation of this product in my home, or to instruct me on how to submit samples for physical testing as outlined in the report.