Working safely with PU
Whatever tool you hold in your hands, it is important that you know how to use it. When used correctly, PU foam is certified as safe. PU foam is resistant to mould and rotting, it has no odour and is physiologically safe. Nevertheless, some basic safety instructions should be observed when working with the construction foam cans.
Wear protective clothing
PU foam adheres to almost every surface, even skin! The high adhesive quality of assembly foams is one of its greatest benefits for permanent insulation of windows and doors or sealing connections. The effect you want on your building is something you need to avoid on your skin! Even very fresh foam is very sticky and can only be removed form the skin mechanically or with chemicals. People who are sensitive could suffer irritation, if MDI foams come into direct contact with the skin and eyes. Therefore, you should display as little free skin as possible when working with PU foams, and wear gloves and goggles. This protects the skin and the eyes in particular. If foams should get into the eyes, rinse immediately with plenty of water and seek medical advice.
Ensure the room is well ventilated
When working with foam, ensure that the workplace is ventilated adequately. Hardened PU foam is resistant to mould and rotting, it has no odour and is physiologically safe. As long as the foam is not hardened, the vapours it emits are deemed harmful due to the isocyanates (MDI) it contains. Isocyanates, as a main constituent of assembly foams, can irritate e.g. eyes, skin and the respiratory passages. The legislator has defined a maximum workplace concentration, the so-called MAK value, to protect people who work with PU foam on a regular basis. This value is 0.005 ppm and is not reached when the room is adequately ventilated, even if PU foams are used permanently. Hardened construction foam contains no more free MDI and is therefore harmless. Measurements of room air close to hardened PU foam found that the values in the air lay below the detection limit.
Do not heat construction foam cans, and keep out of direct sunlight
Assembly foam cans are pressurised. Therefore, they may not be heated with lamps or fans, neither may they be placed on radiators because there is a risk of explosion. Likewise, the cans should be protected against direct sunlight and temperatures above 50 °Celsius. The reason? When heated, the gas in the can expands quickly and increases the pressure inside; in extreme cases the can may burst.
Very cold PU cans can be brought back up to a temperature at which they can be processed by placing them in lukewarm water. The better alternative would be to use winter foam. PU winter foams are specially developed for frosty temperatures and, depending on the formula, deliver high-quality insulation and foaming results in temperatures up to -10 °C.
Safety instructions on the can
The most important safety and use instructions are stated on the can. In the future, all chemical products sold in Europe need to be labelled according to the CLP Ordinance (Classification, Labelling and Packaging). The CLP Ordinance replaces the previous national labelling regulations. It is largely based on the recommendations by the United Nations, the GHS (Global Harmonised System for classification and labelling of chemicals). The objective of the global harmonised system is to make the level of protection for human safety and the environment standard, transparent and comparable. These symbols are explained in the service section.
The general processing information stated here is not binding.
For binding information about processing, handling and occupational safety, please refer to the product and safety data sheets for the respective PU foam issued by the manufacturer and the labels on the PU foam cans.