PPE For Safety | Spray Polyurethane Foam Coating

 Spray Foam Insulation or Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) has become a popular means of insulating buildings. It is a cheap & environmental alternative that offers better insulation, sealing of cracks, improved energy efficiency, and home comfort.

While SPF, when correctly applied, is considered to be inert, there are risks involved. The applicators of SPF are the most vulnerable to poisoning, and it is imperative that they wear adequate personal protective equipment.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), When spray polyurethane foam is being used, the worksite should be avoided for individuals unless they are wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.

This article will look at the best personal protection equipment one should wear to stay safe while spraying SPF. Before we proceed, let's first have a look at the chemical composition of SPF.

 What is Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) made of?

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) is made of two different chemicals. While correctly applied and cured spray foam is considered relatively inert, the chemicals that react to form SPF are not.

The two chemicals that react to form SPF are commonly referred to as Side A and Side B.

  • Side A

Side A is made of highly reactive chemicals called isocyanates. Isocyanates are highly poisonous and its exposure can cause irritation in the eye, irritation in gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts, and increases the chance of severe asthma attacks.

  • Side B

Side B is mainly composed of polyol, smaller amounts of amine or metal catalyst, a blowing agent, surfactant, and a flame retardant. Not much is known about these chemicals' side effects, and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to take precautions while handling Side B.

What are the Dangers of Spray Foam Insulation?

As said earlier, when applied correctly and given adequate time to cure, SPF doesn't pose any serious threats. But coming into direct contact with SPF vapors while spraying can cause fatalities.

Possible Ways of Spray Foam Exposure

  1. Vapours and Aerosols

While spraying, there are high chances of inhaling vapors & aerosols that pose a severe threat to the respiratory system. It is not necessary that the vapors & aerosols evaporate within a few hours after spraying.

This is why experts suggest you wear a piece of protective equipment before entering the room that has just been sprayed and wear one while spraying.

  1. Dust

Cutting, trimming, or smoothening of the hardened foam releases fine dust particles. Though hardened SPF is chemically inert, inhaling these fine particles can be detrimental to your respiratory system.

Safety Equipment for Adequate Protection from SPF

When SPF is used, you need to ensure that the workspace is adequately ventilated and that the workers are wearing PPE. The workspace should only be accessed by persons wearing adequate PPEs.

Let us look at the Personal Protective Equipment that are the best for

  • Respiratory protection
  • Eye protection
  • Skin protection.

  • Respiratory protection

The thumb rule for safety while spraying spray foam is to have adequate ventilation in the workspace. Having sufficient ventilation can significantly reduce the risk of prolonged exposure to SPF vapours.

Irrespective of the ventilation, workers should be wearing respirators while working with SPF. For working outdoors, Air-purifying respirators (APR) and powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR) are generally appropriate.

Whereas for interior applications, supplied-air respirators (SAR) are needed.

For a better understanding of respirator selection, read NIOSH Respirator Decision Logic (2004).

  • Skin Protection

Irrespective of interior or external application, workers should wear adequate skin protection equipment. Ideally, a disposable coverall is found to be an effective deterrent against spray and mist coming in contact with skin and clothing.

If there are chances of a splash, wear a suit made of an impermeable coating such as PVC.

  • Gloves

As said earlier, the chemicals that react to form SPF pose severe threats than the SPF itself. It is essential to wear a proper glove before you begin handling these chemicals. Generally, gloves that can offer protection from Side A is considered adequate to provide B-side protection.

Ideally, you should use a glove made of nitrile, neoprene, butyl, or PVC for adequate protection.

  • Eye protection

When working with SPF, it is essential that the workers protect their eyes from accidental splashing, sprays of reacting foam, aerosols, and airborne particulates. Contrary to popular belief, wearing a contact lens won't offer any protection for your eyes.

You should wear a safety goggle in combination with a face shield for adequate protection. OSHA also mandates to have an eyewash area within the work area's immediate reach in case of accidental exposure to corrosive chemicals.

Get My SPF Safety Equipment

How to choose the best PPE for an SPF job?

As with any protective equipment, the best PPE for an SPF job depends on the worksite condition. Before you buy a PPE, ask these questions.

  • Are you going to spray indoors or outdoors?
  • Whether there will be adequate ventilation? If there is ventilation, what are the relative humidity and ambient temperature at the workspace?
  • Potential for inhalation or splash exposure.
  • Quality of chemicals and the required delivery method.

Find answers to these questions before you get a PPE for an SPF job.

Choosing the right respirator for protection

As said earlier, it is essential to wear a respirator while applying SPF. There are three types of available respirators in the market, and you can choose the one that best caters to your requirement.

  1. Air-Purifying Respirators (APR)
  • APRs are appropriate only for exterior applications of SPF and not for use in confined spaces.
  • Not suitable in spaces with less than 19.5% of oxygen.

  1. Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPR)
  • PAPRs are respirators with a battery-operated blower that regularly supplies purified breathing air.
  • PAPRs are ideal for use in confined spaces, and it also offers full-face covering.

  1. Supplied Air Respirators (SAR)
  • SAR are respirators attached to an outside source of breathing air, and it offers the best protection from SPF exposure.
  • Ideal for both external use & within confined spaces.

For a better understanding of respirator selection, read NIOSH Respirator Decision Logic (2004).

Irrespective of the respiratory you use, make sure to keep an eye out for the respirator cartridge. No respirator cartridge should be used for more than a total of 8 hours. 


It doesn't matter how small the work is, and you must take adequate precautions against direct exposure to SPF.

Feel free to reach out if you have any queries regarding SPF safety equipment. You can also visit our website for the best SPF safety equipment.

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