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'Foam in the News' Are you using spray foam appropriately?

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Spray polyurethane foam is a spray-applied plastic that is widely used as insulation, and most commonly, used to seal cracks and gaps in a range of settings. Once praised for its role as a powerful barrier and its qualities as an air-tight seal, recent news of it being irresponsibly used for coastline preservation has hit the headlines.

Environmental groups have claimed that seals, dolphins, whales and rare birds have been irresponsibly put at risk by a local UK council that has filled cracks in a cliff with spray foam. The material used at Hilbre Islands, situated on the west coast of Liverpool, has broken off into the sea, raising concerns from environmental scientists who note the problems caused by the plastic that makes its way into the ocean's ecosystems. As a widespread threat to local wildlife that could have easily been avoided, the story has understandably brought the foam industry into disrepute.

As a supplier of foam, eFoam does not provide spray polyurethane materials. This is largely due to our belief that there are far more suitable alternatives on the market that can be better used as insulation, sealants and as specialist packaging. For example, Plastazote closed cell foam is a material that is far better suited as insulation, and various ethafoam-based products are effective as a durable and waterproof material that is resistant to both mould and bacteria.

However, this news story illustrates the greater problem that surrounds the misuse and/or incorrect application of spray foams. It is a foam that requires specialist application, yet still, many do not realise the impacts and risks carried by what is presumed a safe and convenient material. Commonly used to secure cables or plastic pipes, it can cause damage to them due to the heated chemical reaction that takes place when it is applied. Furthermore, it is considered by many industry professionals as 'solid gasoline', becoming a toxic fire hazard after it is installed. In fact, standard spray polyurethane foam is highly damaging in many ways, carrying a considerable amount of embodied carbon due to its fossil-fuel driven manufacturing process. Arguably, these factors do not make spray foam the best option.

At eFoam, we are passionate about providing products that are safe, of high quality, and have minimal impact on the environment. We can advise on and provide suitable materials that are both fire retardant and non-toxic, having been made in the UK without the use of harmful chemicals. Though spray foam is considered by some as the most universal type of foam, we do supply a wide range of alternative materials that can be cut to any shape and size and are more environmentally friendly - like reconstituted foam, for example, which can be supplied with a range of properties to fit your specification. To learn more about our environmental efforts, read our blog post.

Though the choice of using spray foam for coastal preservation was wrong in this case, we hope that organisations carefully consider how to best use foam products. As a durable, adaptable product with a range of applications, it's always best to consult the experts when making a decision on any type of foam material. Should you wish to discuss your requirements, please do drop us an email at info@efoam.co.uk or call one of our advisers on 0800 0439 990.

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