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Assessment of spray polyurethane foam worker exposure to organophosphate flame retardants through measures in air, hand wipes, and urine

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2019 by Cheryl Fairfield Estill, Jonathan Slone, Alexander C. Mayer, Kaitlyn Phillips, John Lu, I-Chen Chen, Annette Christianson, Robert Streicher, Mark J. La Guardia, Nayana Jayatilaka, Maria Ospina, Antonia M. Calafat

Tris(1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TCPP, also referenced as TCIPP), a flame retardant used in spray polyurethane foam insulation, increases cell toxicity and affects fetal development. Spray polyurethane foam workers have the potential to be exposed to TCPP during application. In this study, we determined exposure to TCPP and concentrations of the urinary biomarker bis(1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate (BCPP) among 29 spray polyurethane foam workers over 2 work days. Work was conducted at residential or commercial facilities using both open-cell (low density) and closed-cell (high density) foam. Study participants provided two personal air samples (Day 1 and Day 2), two hand wipe samples (Pre-shift Day 2 and Post-shift Day 2), and two spot urine samples (Pre-shift Day 1 and Post-shift Day 2). Bulk samples of cured spray foam were also analyzed. Sprayers were found to have significantly higher TCPP geometric mean (GM) concentration in personal air samples (87.1 μg/m3), compared to helpers (30.2 μg/m3; p = 0.025). A statistically significant difference was observed between TCPP pre- and post-shift hand wipe GM concentrations (p = 0.004). Specifically, TCPP GM concentration in post-shift hand wipe samples of helpers (106,000 ng/sample) was significantly greater than pre-shift (27,300 ng/sample; p < 0.001). The GM concentration of the urinary biomarker BCPP (23.8 μg/g creatinine) was notably higher than the adult male general population (0.159 μg/g creatinine, p < 0.001). Urinary BCPP GM concentration increased significantly from Pre-shift Day 1 to Post-shift Day 2 for sprayers (p = 0.013) and helpers (p = 0.009). Among bulk samples, cured open-cell foam had a TCPP GM concentration of 9.23% by weight while closed-cell foam was 1.68%. Overall, post-shift BCPP urine concentrations were observed to be associated with TCPP air and hand wipe concentrations, as well as job position (sprayer vs. helper). Spray polyurethane foam workers should wear personal protective equipment including air-supplied respirators, coveralls, and gloves during application.


This study was supported in part by an interagency agreement between NIOSH and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (AES15002) as a collaborative National Toxicology Program research activity. The findings and conclusions in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of NIOSH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mention of any company or product does not constitute endorsement by NIOSH.