In the past, we have discussed dangers associated with workplace exposure to isocyanate chemicals in spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation. Applying SPF insulation creates isocyanate vapors that can migrate throughout the building if it is not isolated and properly ventilated. Both inhalation and skin exposures can lead to workers suffering serious health effects.
Isocyanate Poisoning Health Risks
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, inhalation of vapors during SPF application will typically exceed exposure limits. Because of this, workers require skin, eye, and respiratory protection. Without this protection from isocyanate vapors, workers risk asthma, chemical sensitization, and other respiratory and breathing problems. They also risk liver damage, serious allergic reactions, and severe skin and eye irritation.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has found that isocyanates are a leading cause of work-related asthma. According to NIOSH, some workers who become sensitized to isocyanates suffer severe asthma attacks if they are exposed again. Some of these asthma attacks have resulted in death. Workers may become sensitized from either a single exposure to a high concentration, or repeated exposures to lower concentrations. If a worker is allergic or becomes sensitized to isocyanates, even exposure to low concentrations can trigger a severe asthma attack or other potentially fatal reaction. There is no recognized safe level of exposure to isocyanates for sensitized individuals.
How We’re Helping
Lawyers in our Toxic Torts Section represent clients who suffer from occupational asthma, chemical sensitization, or other illnesses resulting from on-the-job exposure to isocyanates. In one case, our client developed asthma and can no longer risk exposure to the chemicals in SPF. As a result, the client incurred medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
In another case, our firm represents a man–the former owner of a company that installed spray foam insulation–who became chemically sensitized to isocyanate and developed occupational asthma. Because of his injuries, our client lost his business and income potential because he could no longer be near SPF or any of its chemical components without risk of severe injury or death.
Dawn Smith of the Smith Clinesmith law firm in Dallas, Texas is our co-counsel in these cases.
We are currently investigating cases for workers exposed to isocyanates at work and who now suffer from asthma or related illnesses. If you would like more information, you can contact us via the form below or call us at 800-898-2034.