Polyiso and Flame Retardants
Polyiso insulation possesses a high level of inherent fire resistance due to its unique structure of strong isocyanurate chemical bonds. Manufacturers further enhance the fire resistance of polyiso by adding flame retardant materials to the product formulations. The end result is an insulation product that meets the demands of modern fire codes.
The term “flame retardant” refers to a function, not a family of chemicals. In general, flame retardants are materials that can be used in products to reduce the chances of a fire starting and to delay the spread of fire.
The common flame-retardant chemical used in polyiso products is TCPP [tris (2-chloro-1-methlyethyl) phosphate]. TCPP is a well-studied chemical for any known health and environment effects, and was selected by the industry to provide an additional level of fire resistance to polyiso products. Other chemistries may be used to enhance the fire resistance of certain polyiso insulation products. For additional details, please review the Performance Bulletin: Polyiso and Flame Retardants.
Importantly, materials used to provide flame retardant properties in building insulation and other products are not equal. With respect to additive, nonpolymeric organohalogen flame retardants, a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that individual hazard assessments are required in order to accurately characterize each substance. In other words, organohalogen flame retardants cannot be treated as a class of chemicals for purposes of hazard evaluation.
Not a Chemical of Concern
TCPP is not classified as a chemical of concern by any authoritative global or national authority, including the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and prominent state authorities such as the California Office of Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Administrative Council (TURA). Based on the best available scientific studies, including a comprehensive risk assessment completed by ECHA in 2008, TCCP is not considered to be toxic or bioaccumulative, and its environmental persistence is lower than other common chemicals.
With respect to the 2008 risk assessment study, ECHA concluded that there was "no concern” to consumer health risks based on measured margins of safety ranging from a low of 667 to a high of 395,000 times anticipated exposure levels. In the case of foam plastic building insulation, the ECHA study concluded that indoor insulation risks were assumed to be so negligible that they were not included in the final risk characterization phase of the study.
No Identified Environmental Risks
The 2008 ECHA risk assessment for TCPP provides exhaustive documentation regarding the environmental performance of TCPP. In regard to environmental risks associated with TCPP, the study found no identified risks to the environment, including freshwater and marine aquatic, soil (with any life cycle stage), and atmospheric.
Source: European Union Risk Assessment Report for TCPP (May 2008).