SPFA Submits Formal Comments to California DTSC

>>SPFA's Formal Comments to California DTSC Regarding Evaluation of SPF and Use of Diisocyanates
Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA) has submitted on behalf of its membership formal comments to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) regarding the evaluation of spray polyurethane foam and the use of diisocyanates. As part of this official industry response provided June 30 to the DTSC, the SPFA highlights serious inaccuracies in the Department’s public documents about the product and the harm these inaccuracies have caused the industry in and out of the state of California.

"We urge the DTSC to correct the multiple inaccuracies in the documents put forth to the public regarding the use of diisocyanates in spray polyurethane foam," said Kurt Riesenberg, executive director of the SPFA. "These incorrect facts have caused irreparable harm to an industry that is unparalleled in its ability to achieve energy efficiency and serve the state of California in its net zero energy goals set forth by 2020."
The SPFA’s formal response lists multiple inaccuracies and prejudiced statements including: unsubstantiated assertions that diisocyanates in sprayfoam are attributable to leading causes of occupational asthma; the inappropriate assertion that alternatives to diisocyanates in sprayfoam should be used or considered prior to the completion of a formal evaluation; multiple inclusive references in the Department’s documents to TDI and HDI isocyanates, which are not components of spray polyurethane foam; the critical need for the DTSC to make distinctions between various types of SPF such as sealants, insulation and roofing, which represent different products, different installation environments, different chemical constituents and different hazard levels; the state’s duplication of existing federal EPA, NIOSH and OSHA efforts addressing diisocyanates installation safety; and SPFA’s continued disappointment throughout the process with DTSC’s failure to initially reach out to industry before publishing inaccurate information, and the subsequent failure of not correcting published information proven to be incorrect. 

"The SPFA is concerned the DTSC’s efforts will continue to decimate jobs and energy efficiency in California," added Riesenberg. "At the very least, any and all information the Department puts forth during this evaluation process must be accurate and substantiated. It would be remiss for any public documents to be anything but factual yet that is the situation we find ourselves in." 

Following the SPFA’s formal comments submission, the association will continue to actively participate in the DTSC Priority Products evaluation process. "The SPFA will be an active voice and participant in this process to protect our members, constituents, customers and affiliate industries in the state of California," added Riesenberg. "Spray polyurethane foam remains unmatched in performance as an insulation and roofing material and we will continue to showcase the immense product benefits and safety to the Department and public." 
The next steps in the Department’s Priority Products evaluation process include public hearings, the establishment of the Final Priority Product List, an Alternatives Analysis and a Regulatory Response (which could range among a number of rules and regulations regarding the use of SPF in California).

Statements from industry stakeholders about the impact of the DTSC’s Priority Product effort relative to spray polyurethane foam:

"In order to prioritize a product, DTSC is required by law to demonstrate significant or widespread adverse impact. DTSC’s prioritization of SPF is based on isocyanates being the leading attributable cause of occupational asthma. Yet, according to the California Department of Public Health, out of 974,000 cases of occupational asthma, none have been attributed to SPF. Therefore, based on DTSC’s own data, the case against SPF fails."   
Mitch Fine

"Sprayfoam is a safe product, performing a great service to the state of California by helping save energy. The Governor's goal of net zero energy by 2020 needs sprayfoam with its tremendous air-sealing properties and superior energy efficiency performance. Unfortunately, the inaccuracies in the DTSC's sprayfoam Product Priority Profile continues to cause harm and widespread confusion among consumers, builders and building owners. We ask the DTSC to correct the sprayfoam PPP immediately. Sprayfoam offers a proven solution to reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by reducing energy loss in buildings. We look forward to partnering with DTSC on responsible Green Chemistry initiatives, so that the state of California continues to enjoy the exceptional benefits of sprayfoam."
Will Lorenz 
National Sales Manager 
General Coatings 
Fresno, CA

"The DTSC has done irrefutable harm to the spray polyurethane foam industry. I have built my business over the past 11 years and have experienced a serious loss in revenue due to the DTSC's current process and harmful, incorrect published product information. Several jobs on my books have been changed to other types of insulation. Two customers completely cancelled their projects with me. Numerous architects have shared that they cannot spec sprayfoam until the DTSC process has run its course. And one major builder recently informed me that an 8 subdivision project with planned sprayfoam insulation will now not use the product. This equates to a loss of $5-6 million to my business! If the DTSC evaluation process is not completed soon, or results in the regulation or ban of this incredibly effective and safe product, I will be out of business and forced to leave the state."
Gary Talbott
5 Star Performance Insulation, Inc.
>>Statement from SPFA on California's Proposed Regulations
RE: California Department of Toxic Substances Control Proposed Regulation of Chemicals Utilized in Spray Polyurethane Foam "for Home and Building Insulation, Weatherizing and Sealing, and Roofing" 

In March 2014 the California Department of Toxic Substance Control announced three priority product areas that the state will focus upon for potential rulemakings, intended to limit or potentially ban the use of those products in the state. Spray polyurethane foam was identified as one Priority Product area. Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA) contends that this decision to include SPF was misguided, an over-reach, and based upon information utilized by California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) that was less than accurate as presented. SPFA recognizes that the state is a very important driver for reducing environmental footprints of products and buildings, and increasing building energy efficiency.  Customers from home and commercial building owners to homebuilders and architects demand the use of SPF to reach the ever-increasing energy codes in the state due to its superior product performance.  SPF is a safe product that delivers, and any efforts to limit or ban its use will be a great detriment to the customers in the state, as well as the many small professional businesses that install SPF, and will be met with significant opposition by SPFA.  
With industry best practices and the safe and effective installation of spray foam representing two core missions of the organization, SPFA has consistently, openly and transparently collaborated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the safe use of spray foam ingredients and systems over the past half-decade. While SPFA understands and emphasizes that the recent DTSC announcement is not a ban of spray polyurethane foam (or the use of diisocyanates found in a multitude of consumer products), it considers the announcement unfortunate as it undermines the desire among California private and professional customers for a safe and effective building product that delivers on performance.

California has demanded increased energy efficiency performance of homes and buildings in a way that few products other than spray foam can deliver, and simultaneously initiated efforts to regulate the product in a way that may render its performance impotent.
Read full statement here.
>>SPFA Testifies at All Three Recent California DTSC Public Workshops
SPFA testified at three hearings in California recently on the industry's behalf. All manufacturers, distributors, and California member contractors were encouraged to attend the hearing closest to them and communicate with the CA DTSC regarding inaccuracies in the Department's statement, and the negative impact upon SPF business in the state.
The Department initiated a new regulatory process in March 2014 under the new California Green Chemistry Initiative and the Safer Consumer Products law. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) reviewed over 1,500 products and constituent materials and selected a three initial priority products to work with. Spray polyurethane foam, or more specifically "Unreacted Diisocyanates in SPF" was one of the products selected. SPFA and the SPF industry have reached out to DTSC on many occasions to better understand the process of selection and what the Department is expecting from industry. SPFA and the American Chemistry Council have contended from the moment of the announcement that no outreach was performed by the Department to the industry. SPFA further contends that this lack of outreach resulted in a failed selection process that still lacks open explanation, in critical misunderstanding of SPF systems among the Department staff, erroneous conclusions drawn from cited research studies, lack of citations to studies such as those published from the US government’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) and California’s own Department of Health that directly conflict with the DTSC’s basis for determination, likely duplication around Isocyanates programs already ongoing, such as the EPA’s Chemical Action Plan (CAP) on Isocyanates, and OSHA’s National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Isocyanates (in which CalOSHA participates), and a published Priority Product Profile available on the DTSC’s website still today that delivers factually incorrect information.  

"Members have indicated in public testimony that the Department’s mishandling of the process and information, and resulting perception among customers of uncertainty for the product’s future in California, have resulted in immediate material negative impact to their businesses. Manufacturers have reported hearing questions regarding DTSC action in states as far away as New York and Texas thanks to the mainstream media’s coverage of this debacle. And the homebuilding industry in California, a big proponent of SPF, suggests that their advanced purchasing decisions have been thrown into uncertainty because of the confusion around SPF resulting from DTSC’s handling, just at the time when preparations are being made to comply with 2016 high efficiency Title 24 California energy codes," said SPFA Executive Director Kurt Riesenberg. "It’s like being locked in a house with both the heat and air conditioning running at the same time, when these different state agencies are actually working against each other’s internal interests."

The DTSC has listened to the concerns of the industry, but have provided little remedy in the way of correcting bad information on their website. SPFA, the American Chemistry Council, and a team of members spent almost an entire day with DTSC staff after the announcement educating them on SPF topics in the hopes of addressing concerns from an informed standpoint.  "What is really unfortunate," continued Riesenberg, "is what we’ve said all along: this could have all been avoided if they had just asked us some questions before they surprised everyone with the announcement."  SPFA has formally requested within the DTSC public workshops that the erroneous information contained in the Priority Product Profile document be removed from the DTSC website until corrections can be made, to avoid the continued spread of incorrect information. To date, DTSC has added a disclaimer within the document. SPFA and the California members anticipate working with DTSC and other state interests as this regulatory process continues unabated toward the next steps, including potential alternative assessments for SPF.

"While we are certain the DTSC is well intentioned in pursuing this new regulatory path available to them in California for the health, safety and well-being of their constituents, the guinea pig nature of our involvement and the complete failings we have seen to date by the state leave us with these unfortunate and serious allegations," said Riesenberg.  "It is very difficult to accept the time, expense and ill-defined expectations of an alternative assessment when the process that led us to this point has been wrong, period."
For more details click here. For the full SPFA statement, click here.