Marketplace asked Frank Haverkate of Haverkate & Associates/SafeAir.ca to conduct a limited air quality and chemical analysis of the home in Caledon, Ontario. Over 48 hours, Haverkate collected air samples from the master bedroom, as well as from the main floor. He also collected foam samples from the attic, directly above the master bedroom. The homeowner and the manufacturer commissioned their own air analyses and foam inspections (visual, application, thickness).
Air Sample Results
Haverkate & Associates discovered elevated levels of several Volatile Organic Compounds in the Franceschini home, particularly concentrated in the master bedroom on the second floor.
These chemicals included benzene, ethylbenzene (a possible carcinogen) Toulene Diisocyanates (TDI, also possible carcinogens) and Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), the inhalation of which can cause allergic reactions. These chemicals were found at levels considered acceptable for industrial settings, in which solvents, glues and other materials are present. In his opinion, the levels of these chemicals are too high for a home, but notes that there are currently no limits for chemicals in residential settings.
Haverkate & Associates did not, and cannot, conclusively prove that the above air-borne chemicals originated from the spray foam application, because residential supplies (such as paint, hairspray and aerosols) as well as building materials and/or attached garages can influence air samples.
Foam Sample Results
Marketplace’s test asked for an analysis of foam samples. According to Haverkate, the foam samples revealed a number of elevated aldehydes, in particular acetaldehyde and its better known relative, formaldehyde. These are suspected cancer causing agents. Spray foam is advertised as formaldehyde-free which makes its presence in the insulation surprising. Haverkate believes that the aldehydes may have been created as a result of improper spray foam application.
Below are excerpts from his summary report:
Haverkate and associates performed a 48 hour TO-15 analysis using a passive diffusion monitor on the main floor (GR4525) as well as a passive dosimeter on the 2nd floor (GR4540). A blank sample was also used for quality control. A bulk sample of the spray foam insulation was removed from the attic and sent for a chamber test for VOC as well as aldehydes including formaldehyde.
The results found benzene levels to be elevated at 5.32 µg/m3; the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard is 0.31µg/m3.
This study also found Ethylbenzene levels to be elevated at 9.58 µg/m3; the EPA standard is 0.97 µg/m3.
This study found low levels of Methyl ethyl ketone or 2-Butanone otherwise known as MEK. Acute or short term inhalation of MEK, even at low levels, can lead to allergic reactions such as irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat according to the US EPA.
The EPA states that no information is available on developmental, reproductive or carcinogenic effects of MEK in humans but have been shown in animals. Studies are on-going. The New Jersey Department of Health lists MEK as a hazardous substance.
Of special interest in the results of the chamber tests is the result of formaldehyde at 1.47 µg/g.day. This may be the result of a bi product created as a result of the improper installation. In this test MEK was also present at 1.23 µg /g.day.
Haverkate and SafeAir.ca believe that the indoor air quality in the home has been negatively affected by the spray foam installation and recommend the immediate removal of this product.
Haverkate and SafeAir.ca also do not recommend that the home be occupied until this has been successfully executed and another air quality study has been performed.
Without limitation, this assessment is not a structural or mechanical inspection, pest inspection, or building code compliance inspection. The results of the assessment apply only to conditions at the time and date of the assessment. Environmental pollution levels may be significantly higher or lower at different times other than the date and time of the assessment. This assessment cannot be exhaustive given the limited cost and time devoted to it. Therefore, all problem areas may not be identified and hidden or developing problems may be missed. In many cases the severity of hidden issues such as but not limited to mould growth may be significantly different than observed without a destructive and exhaustive inspection. Absolutely no warranties or guarantees are provided whatsoever and the assessment is not a forecast or an insurance policy. The client hereby releases Haverkate & Associates Inc/ SafeAir.ca, its directors, employees, or contractors from any and all liability.
Any reference to health symptoms or information dealing with health is not meant to serve as medical advice or a medical diagnosis in any way. Should you experience health issues, changes in your health or believe there may be a danger to your health, it is strongly recommended that you leave the building and contact your physician immediately.
We recommend that all work to be performed by carried out by qualified personnel in accordance with all municipal, provincial, and federal laws as well as in accordance with industry accepted water damage and mould remediation guidelines such as but not limited to the IICRC S-500 and IICRC S-520.
No oral representation made by any person shall modify or amend this report. Should conditions become apparent that differ significantly from our understanding and conditions as presented in this report, we request that we be notified immediately to reassess the conclusions provided herein.
The client shall not hold or cause to hold SafeAir.ca and/or Haverkate & Associates Inc, its directors, employees or contractors liable in any way.