Polyurethane Foam

Modified on 2009/10/14 21:34 by admin
Polyurethane foam insulation is used in a variety of products, including foam cushions, mattress padding, carpet backing, packaging and automobile dashboard liners. Unfortunately, polyurethane foam will, when ignited, burn rapidly and produce intense heat, dense smoke and gases that are irritating, flammable and/or toxic. As with other organic materials, the most significant gas is usually carbon monoxide. Thermal decomposition products from polyurethane foam consist mainly of carbon monoxide, benzene, toluene, oxides of nitrogen, hydrogen cyanide, acetaldehyde, acetone, propene, carbon dioxide, alkenes and water vapor.

Fire usually is a serious concern in building construction because there may be storage of exposed foam, incomplete installation, other dangers of improper application and disposal practices, poor housekeeping conditions, and the potential for exposure to open flame from allied trades during certain construction activities.

One of the major safety precautions to be taken around organic foams is to prohibit sources of ignition such as open flames, cutting and welding torches, high intensity heat sources and smoking. The safety recommendations of the foam supplier must be observed in addition to the minimum requirements set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for fire protection.

Polyurethane foam, which can burn like gasoline, is believed to be the cause of the February 20, 2003 Rhode Island nightclub fire that killed 99 people. Owners of The Station nightclub in West Warwick purchased the packaging foam for acoustic insulation, an unauthorized use. Pyrotechnic equipment ignited the soundproofing in the nightclub during the concert, filling the club with dense, toxic smoke.

If you suffered injuries due to polyurethane foam, it may be important to contact an attorney who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits within which you must commence suit.

See Also

  1. Dangerous Household Products: Overview
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