The Truth About Flammability of Polyurethane Foam Insulation

Properly insulating your home saves money and energy during cold months. However, some types of insulation, such as polyurethane foam insulation, present a fire hazard.


Polyurethane foam insulation burns quickly if ignited, emitting smoke, heat and toxic gases, according to the Occupational Health & Safety Administration. Toxic gases emitted by burning polyurethane foam include carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanide, benzene, acetaldehyde and acetone.


Some types of polyurethane foam insulation claim to be "flame-resistant" or "fire-retardant." However, these products still cause large amounts of toxic gases when exposed to fire or flame, which are as lethal as a fire.


Polyurethane foam insulation can be used safely if you install it in a flame-retardant and heat-retardant structure, such as gypsum board, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Never allow welding, cigarette smoking or other types of flame around polyurethane foam insulation.

About the Author

Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at tolerance.org. She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.