The trade association Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA) is urging consumers, businesses, and builders in the U.S. to help prevent asthma and asthma-related attacks by using responsible building materials to lower rates of fossil fuel consumption in homes and commercial buildings.
As the educational and technical voice of the spray polyurethane foam industry, SFPA notes that with an estimated 26 million Americans afflicted with asthma and related disorders, and a proven direct link between these conditions and air quality, it hopes to educate the public and the industry on strategies to reduce asthma by using quality building materials.
SPFA is made up of contractors, manufacturers, and distributors of polyurethane foam, related equipment, protective coatings, inspections, surface preparations, and other services.
“Asthma can be a life-threatening condition for many Americans, and finding and implementing solutions for reducing asthma triggers should be a top priority for all,” said Kurt Riesenberg, executive director of SPFA, in a media release. “Improving the built environment is one way to protect those who suffer from asthma.”
Originally founded as the Polyurethane Foam Contractors Division in 1987, the SPFA has experienced staff whose member committees are able to provide a variety of quality control and enhancement services to the construction industry. The group can also develop tools designed to inform about the positive benefits of spray polyurethane foam roofing, insulation, coatings, and specialty applications.
The American Lung Association (ALA) describes asthma as a chronic, serious, lifelong, and potentially life-threatening disorder, characterized by lung and bronchial airway swelling upon exposure to asthma triggers encountered in the everyday environment. These triggers include, but aren’t limited to, pollens, smoke, pet dander, dust, mold, airborne chemicals, and weather changes.
When someone with asthma inhales an airborne trigger, their airways swell in response and are stimulated to create excess mucus, thereby swelling even further and making it difficult to breathe.
ALA estimates that some 26 million Americans suffer from asthma, and more than 7 million of them are children. The disease causes millions of lost school and work days annually. It has become the third-leading cause of pediatric hospitalizations, and is directly attributable to air quality and particle pollution.
The ALA’s State of the Air 2016 report revealed that even with continued improvement in air quality from 2012 to 2014, and lower year-round levels of particle pollution and ozone acknowledged a positive trend, too many U.S. residents still live in unhealthy respiratory environments.
The report found that nearly 22.8 million people live in U.S. counties that have year-round unhealthy particle pollution levels, resulting in more people at high risk for asthma. For example, eight out of 10 Californians live in counties with unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution, and Los Angeles continues to top the list of cities most polluted with ozone emissions.
“Air pollution remains a huge public health threat, contributing to thousands of hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and deaths every year to our most vulnerable loved ones – children, seniors, and those battling lung diseases such as lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema,” said David Tom Cooke, M.D., head of the UC Davis Section of General Thoracic Surgery and member of the Lung Association’s volunteer governing board.
“We must redouble our efforts to transition California off of fossil fuels for transportation and energy generation by investing in zero emission solutions,” Cooke said.
SPFA Technical Director Rick Duncan said the SPFA wants to educate U.S. consumers, homeowners, commercial property owners, businesses, and builders about the importance of proper insulation and air sealing. This will help decrease the number of asthma triggers that can get inside a home or building, he said.
Spray polyurethane foam is used in both insulation and roofing applications to improve indoor air quality. The material seals the building structure for thermal, air, and moisture control. Improved air-tightness provided by spray foam enables better indoor humidity control, thereby reducing the growth of mold as well as minimizing volumes of exterior allergens and pollutants such as pollen, smoke, dust, and airborne chemicals that can randomly enter the structure.
SFPA points out that a well-sealed building reducing interior levels of asthma triggers, helping residents cope with that and other respiratory health issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), now the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
The ALA State of the Air 2016 report cites electricity generation as being a major source of air pollution, and that reducing electricity use should be a primary goal for curbing air pollution.
“With electricity production a major contributor to air pollution and asthma triggers, spray foam use in the built environment and the energy conservation it results in, ultimately reduces those triggers to the benefit of anyone at risk of asthma in the community,” Duncan said. “Spray polyurethane foam insulation and roofing are among the few products with such a positive effect on both ends of the spectrum reduction in energy production and the maintenance of great indoor air quality.”