Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Public Health (M.S.P.H.)

Degree Granting Department

Environmental and Occupational Health

Major Professor

Steven P. Mlynarek, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Yehia Y. Hammad, Sc.D.

Committee Member

Rene R. Salazar, Ph.D.


air sampling, emissions, energy savings, green building materials


There is currently high demand for new building materials which are considered "environmentally friendly" or "green" for both new construction and renovations. Spray polyurethane foam (SPUF) insulation has gained significant acceptance by both consumers and the construction industry due to its high R-value, which results into significant energy savings among other things. Despite its acceptance by consumers and the construction industry, consideration must be given to potential chemical exposures to applicators installing these products.

This study sought to determine, through quantitative experimentation, if there was a release of glycol derivatives including, diethylene glycol (DEG), ethylene glycol (EG), and propylene glycol (PEG), during the application of SPUF. In addition, total volatile organic Compounds (tVOCs) and various environmental parameters were also collected during this research.

This study utilized a two-component small-scale SPUF kit manufactured by the Dow Chemical Company, known as the FROTH-PAK™ kit. This specific kit is typically used by the construction industry to fill cavities, cracks, floor and wall penetrations, and expansion joints of buildings.

In order to determine the presence of these glycol derivatives, personal breathing zone samples were collected during the application of the SPUF during three application trials. Glycols derivatives were measured using active sampling techniques. Supplementary parameters including tVOCs, ambient and wet-bulb temperature, relative humidity, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide, were measured using direct-reading techniques. During this study several modifications were made to the work area and the air sampling methodology to assist in verifying the presence of the glycols and the conditions in which they may be present in the air during the application of SPUF insulation. All samples were sent to an accredited laboratory and were analyzed by the Nation Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Method 5523.

During this study, measurable amounts of diethylene glycol and propylene glycol were detected in two of the trials in which no ventilation in the work area was utilized. During one trial in which a work area ventilation system was utilized, none of the glycols were detected in the laboratory analysis above the limit of detection given the analytical method. Ethylene glycol was not detected in any of the samples submitted for analysis. The results for the tVOC measurements were inconclusive.

Based on the results of the air sampling, it is likely that exposure to diethylene glycol and propylene glycol may occur under certain conditions. However, due to the limited number of samples and the variation between the samples collected in this study, a generation rate or concentration buildup estimate for comparison of the OELs was not conducted. These conditions include the quantity of ventilation used during application, the application duration, and proper operation of the SPUF application equipment. Based on the results, there is evidence that additional research may be needed in this area.