Floral Foam at the Beach

Floral Foam at the Beach

This past weekend the rain stopped.  And we took the dogs to our local beach in Emeryville/Berkeley.  We love it, since it's only a few minutes away and the dogs love it too.

Emeryville Beach great short walk for dogs

Unfortunately, I found a large glob of floral foam there. It's sad.  It is full of yucky toxic chemicals and not only is it not biodegradable, but those yucky chemicals pollute the water and the air around it.  It's unfair to the fish, humans, amoebas, birds, sea lions and crabs that may have come into contact with it. Please don't use floral foam.  It's not worth it.  There are many other ways to make and find beauty that are more sustainable....

floral foam found washed up on the Emeryville Beach

Gorgeous and Green

March 23, 2012 by Pilar Zuniga

MSDS Floral Foam

Many people have contacted me about getting the msds sheets for floral foam products, and I have acquired a recent copy of the Smither's Oasis Floral Foam MSDS sheet so I will repost it here for you to view.  Some of it I had to reformat because it is copied from a pdf, so it may look slightly different in print. I have not changed any information other than formatting.

Page 1 of 5 SO-0013 SMITHERS-OASIS NORTH AMERICA 919 MARVIN STREET • P.O. BOX NUMBER 790 • KENT, OHIO 44240   MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEET    Oasis® Floral Foam    SECTION 1 - CHEMICAL PRODUCT AND COMPANY IDENTIFICATION  IDENTITY  OASIS® Floral Foam DATE PREPARED       6/08/2009 SYNONYMS, CHEMICAL NAMES, COMMON NAMES  OASIS® Floral Foam USE:   Arrangement of cut flowers   MANUFACTURER'S NAME  Smithers-Oasis TELEPHONE NUMBER - INFORMATION  330-673-5831 ADDRESS  919 Marvin Street P.O. Box 790 Kent, OH 44240  USA EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBER  Transportation emergency: CHEMTREC:  800 424-9300 International Transportation: CHEMTREC: 703-527-3887 Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center: 303- 623-5716   SECTION - 2 - HAZARDS IDENTIFICATION     EMERGENCY OVERVIEW     Green fine-celled thermoset phenolic plastic foam. May be irritating to eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. May contain formaldehyde and/or carbon black. Prolonged exposure may cause cancer.    PRIMARY ROUTE(s) OF EXPOSURE Contact and Inhalation of dust.   IRRITATION DATA:  May cause irritation to skin, eyes, and respiratory tract.   INHALATION:  ACUTE: Dust or fumes may cause irritation to the nasal passages, lacrimation, olfactory changes, and pulmonary changes. Inhalation of heptane fumes may irritate the respiratory tract producing light headedness, dizziness, muscle incoordination, CNS depression and narcosis. CHRONIC: Prolonged exposure to formaldehyde and/or carbon black may cause cancer. SKIN CONTACT ACUTE: May cause irritation. CHRONIC: May cause dermatitis. Frequent or prolonged exposure to formaldehyde can cause hypersensitivity leading to contact dermatitis. EYE CONTACT ACUTE: Contact may be irritating. CHRONIC: May cause conjunctivitis. INGESTION:  ACUTE: May cause mouth irritation due to local pH effect.  Swallowing formaldehyde may cause violent vomiting and diarrhea. Aspiration of heptane into lungs can produce severe lung damage. CHRONIC: Prolonged exposure may cause symptoms similar to acute effects.   MEDICAL CONDITIONS GENERALLY AGGRAVATED BY EXPOSURE  None known.   SECTION 3 – COMPOSITION, INFORMATION ON INGREDIENTS  HAZARDOUS COMPONENTS CAS# % Acid catalysts Proprietary 8-12 % Barium sulfate 7727-43-7 2-3 % Heptane 142-82-5 < 1.5 % Formaldehyde 50-00-0  < 0.15 % Other components, if any, are not hazardous or hazardous components are present at less than 1% (0.1% for carcinogens).   SECTION 4 - EMERGENCY AND FIRST AID PROCEDURES INHALATION: Remove from exposure to fresh air.  If breathing has stopped, give artificial respiration.  Oxygen may be given if breathing is difficult.  Get medical attention. SKIN CONTACT: Wash affected area with soap and water until no evidence of the material remains.  Get medical attention if irritation develops. EYE CONTACT: Flush thoroughly with water for at least 15 minutes, occasionally lifting the upper and lower lids, until no evidence of the material remains.  Get medical attention if irritation develops.  If wearing contact lens, remove immediately and flush eyes as above. INGESTION: Do not induce vomiting. Treat symptomatically and supportively.  If a large quantity is ingested, get medical attention since there could be a problem with physical blockage.   SECTION 5 - FIRE FIGHTING MEASURES  Flash Point:  Not applicable. Flammable Limits UEL:  Not applicable. Flammable Limits LEL:  Not applicable. Autoignition Temperature:  ~600°F. Extinguishing Media: Water spray, foam, carbon dioxide, or dry chemical. Special Fire Fighting Procedures: Avoid breathing smoke.  Firefighters should wear full protective NIOSH approved self- contained breathing apparatus. Unusual Fire and Explosion Hazards:  Finished foam will support combustion if it is ignited by direct contact with an open flame or exposed to temperatures in the range of 600°F.  If foam is placed in a microwave for an extended period, it will begin to burn.  Combustion occurs at the center of the brick and due to the insulating effect of the foam, can proceed unnoticed until an appreciable heat buildup occurs.   SECTION 6 - ACCIDENTAL RELEASE MEASURES Wear suitable protective equipment.  Reclaim or place in suitable container for disposal.   SECTION 7 - HANDLING AND STORAGE Store in a cool, dry well ventilated area, out of direct sunlight.  Foam stored in stagnant or hot enclosures may result in off gassing of residual formaldehyde gas.   Wash thoroughly after handling.  Observe good personal and industrial hygiene procedures.  When foam is soaked or used in water, some low levels of residual formaldehyde may accumulate in tub water.   Repeated skin immersion in water containing formaldehyde has caused skin rashes, particularly in sensitive persons.  It is recommended that impervious latex or chemical resistant gloves be worn and water tubs be emptied regularly. SECTION 8 - EXPOSURE CONTROLS, PERSONAL PROTECTION RESPIRATORY PROTECTION  A dust mask is recommended if dust is excessive.  Where airborne concentrations may exceed guidelines for permissible air concentrations, choose a respirator in accordance with OSHA Respirator Standard 29 CFR 1910.134. VENTILATION  Use general dilution ventilation to maintain exposure below the exposure limits. PROTECTIVE GLOVES  Use barrier cream or choose appropriate gloves in accordance with OSHA Subpart I Personal Protective Equipment Hand Protection Standard 29 CFR 1910.138. EYE PROTECTION  Safety glasses are recommended or choose in accordance with OSHA Eye and Face Protection Standard      29 CFR 1910.133. OTHER PROTECTIVE CLOTHING OR EQUIPMENT  Not normally required. RECOMMENDED EXPOSURE LIMITS  OSHA and ACGIH have not set exposure limits for this material.  .   COMPONENTS------------------ OSHA PEL --------------------ACGIH TLV  Formaldehyde                                    0.75 ppm TWA                             0.3 ppm CEILING CAS# 50-00-0                              2 ppm STEL Acid catalysts: inorganic acid      1 mg/m 3 TWA                             1 mg/m3 TWA CAS # Propriatary                                                                                 3 mg/m3 STEL Barium sulfate                     15 mg/m 3 TWA as Ba (Total dust)    10 mg/m3 TWA CAS# 7727-43-7          5 mg/m3 TWA as Ba  (Respirable fraction) Heptane                                       500 ppm TWA                                     400 ppm TWA 500 ppm STEL   SECTION 9 - PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL PROPERTIES  Appearance:  Green, fine-celled thermoset phenolic plastic foam Odor:  None. Odor Threshold: Not applicable. Physical State:  Solid pH:  3.0 in 5% slurry Melting/Freezing Point:: Not  available Boiling Point:: Not applicable Flash Point:  Not applicable. Evaporation Rate:  Not applicable Flammability:  Will burn. Upper Explosive Limits:  Not applicable. Lower Explosive Limits:  Not applicable. Vapor Pressure:  Not applicable Vapor Density:  Not applicable Specific Gravity or Relative Density:  Not available Solubility:  Not soluble Oil/Water Coefficient:  Not applicable Autoignition Temperature:  Not kn9own. Decomposition Temperature: Not known.   SECTION 10 -  STABILITY AND REACTIVITY  CHEMICAL STABILITY:  Stable. CONDITIONS TO AVOID:  Stable at normal room temperature.  INCOMPATIBLE MATERIALS:  Normally unreactive. HAZARDOUS DECOMPOSITION PRODUCTS:  Smoke, oxides of carbon, and possible trace amounts of formaldehyde, phenol, cresols, xylenols, and sulfur dioxide. POSSIBILITY OF HAZARDOUS REACTIONS:  Will not occur. SECTION 11 – TOXICOLOGICAL INFORMATION  Toxicity studies on a similar compound indicate that the Oral LD50 (rat): >5000 mg/kg Primary Dermal Irritation Study in Albino Rabbits on a similar compound: Non irritant Inhalation LC50 (rat):  103 gm/m3/4H   Heptane TDLo (rat): 60 gm/kg/3W  Heptane: Changes in liver weight TDLo (rat): 260 gm/kg/13W: Heptane:  Changes in bladder weight; Changes in brain and coverings. Carcinogenicity: Formaldehyde has been classified as a Group 2A carcinogen by IARC, is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen by NTP, and is a suspected human carcinogen by ACGIH. Carbon black has been classified as an IARC2B carcinogen. Tumorigenic data (RTECS) Formaldehyde; barium sulfate; carbon black Reproductive data (RTECS): Formaldehyde Mutagenic data (RTECS): Formaldehyde; barium sulfate; green dye Teratology data (RTECS): Formaldehyde SECTION 12 - ECOLOGICAL INFORMATION  This formulation has not been tested for environmental effects.  It is a thermoset plastic and is not biodegradable.   SECTION 13 - DISPOSAL CONSIDERATIONS  Dispose in accordance with all applicable federal, state, and local environmental regulations. Recycling is recommended. It can be cut up and used as a soil conditioner. Since it dries faster than regular soils, it can be used to aerate tightly packed clay type soils.   If discarded in its original form, material is not regulated by Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) as a hazardous waste. Passes TCLP test requirements.   SECTION 14 - TRANSPORT INFORMATION  Material is not regulated as a DOT Marine Pollutant Proper Shipping Name:   Not regulated. Hazard Class:   Not applicable. ID Number:   Not applicable. Packing Group:   Not applicable. Marine Pollutant:   Not regulated by 49 CFR 172.101. SECTION 15 - REGULATORY INFORMATION  OSHA: This material may be classified as hazardous under OSHA regulations.    TSCA: All components are listed or exempt from listing on the TSCA 8(b) inventory.    DSL: All components are listed or exempt from listing.   EINECS: All components are listed or exempt from listing.   SARA Title III - Toxic chemicals list 40 CFR 372.65  Formaldehyde CAS# 50-00-0 <0.2 % Barium sulfate is exempt from reporting under the category “Barium compounds” (59FR33208)   SARA Hazard Categories:  Acute Health Hazard : Yes Chronic Health Hazard: Yes Fire Hazard: No Reactive Hazard: No Sudden Release of Pressure: No   CERCLA Toxic Chemicals List 40 CFR 302:   Formaldehyde RQ: 100#     A spill in excess of 66,000 pounds would require reporting to the National Response Center based on the maximum residual content of formaldehyde in the foam.   CALIFORNIA PROPOSITION 65: The following statement is made in order to comply with the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer or other reproductive harm. SECTION 16 – OTHER INFORMATION  HMIS Ratings: Health                1 Flammability      1 Reactivity           0 where 0=minimal,    1=slight,    2=moderate,    3=serious,    4=severe European Risk Phrases: R: 20, 45    Key/Legend:    ACGIH: American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists ACGIH TLV: ACGIH Threshold Limit Values   CAS: Chemical Abstract Service CERCLA:  Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act CFR: Code of Federal Regulations CNS: Central Nervous System CPR: Controlled Product Regulations DSL:  Domestic Substances List EINECS: European Inventory of Existing Commercial Chemical Substances IARC: International Agency for Research on Cancer IDL: Ingredient Disclosure List NIOSH: National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health OSHA: Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA PEL: OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits RCRA:: Resource Conservation and  Recovery Act RTECS:  Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances SARA: Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act TSCA: Toxic Substances Control Act TWA: Time Weighted Average WHMIS: Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System     The information and recommendations set forth herein are made in good faith and are believed to be accurate as of the date of preparation.  Smithers-Oasis makes no warranty, either expressed or implied, with respect to this information and disclaims all liability from reliance on it.            

Let's Change Floral Foam

I have had a lot of positive remarks from the community regarding the conversation I've started about Floral Foam on this blog.  Many folks don't even realize how wasteful it is or how toxic it is.  For thousands of floral designers, clients, workers and anyone else who come into contact with floral foam, there should be far greater transparency about what it's made of and how it's affecting our health and the environment. So, there are two items I would like to ask of the floral foam manufacturers.  And I need your help to get this done. 1. They need to immediately share the MSDS hazardous materials report online, and in print with every box of floral foam.  And,  there should be a warning label on the outside of the box that states some basic facts like: don't inhale, don't ingest, don't handle for prolonged amount of time and discard responsibly. 2.  They need to start making a floral foam that is not filled with hazardous chemicals and that is biodegradable.  Then, it's up to the consumer to make the switch to the less hazardous and more eco-friendly option. Now, there was a company in the UK that was offering a biodegradable floral foam.  So I know it's doable. Who would like to join me in demanding that floral foam manufacturers change their practices? In Green and Health, G&G

Eco-Friendly Memorial Spray

It's a challenging time when people are saying goodbye to a friend or family member at the end of life.  But, I meet the challenge proudly as I know I can be of service to folks during this important time.  I have been asked to do a few memorial arrangements, and recently I provided a casket spray at my boutique, Gorgeous and Green. Most casket sprays and wreaths are made with floral foam these days, but as you know, I don't touch the stuff (see my other blogs about it).  I was able to create a beautiful casket spray without floral foam using locally grown flowers: roses, delphinium, belladonna, mums and gerbera.  It was a little more labor, but I think it turned out beautifully.  The customers were happy and I felt proud to be able to offer such a nice art piece to help them honor their family member. In Green and Health, G&G

Biodegradable Floral Foam?

Non-toxic and Biodegradable Floral Foam, Where are You?

I wrote a post a few months ago about the toxins found in floral foam and that it's essentially made of plastic that isn't biodegradable.  I've gotten so many hits on my blog about it, and yet, I still don't have much in the way of another option.  Until I dug up this information from Stanel Co, a bioplastics firm based in the United Kingdom.  Here is an informational pdf about a new bioplastic technology that can allow someone to make biodegradable floral foam made from plants: www.stanelcoplc.com .   This new polymer: bioplastic 2189 is both biodegradable and compostable!  What a relief.  Can you imagine?  being able to throw the foam and the flowers into the compost bin? What's more, the bioplastic works in the same way as the fossil fuel plastic, so it can be switched out and used in the very same factories and machinery as the other stuff.   I can't wait to go order this foam... But wait, who's making it?   Well apparently one floral foam specialist company is using this polymer to make biodegradable funeral foams: www.valspicer.co.uk .  They have wonderful foam shapes and molds, but I don't see any biodegradable options on their site.  I've contacted them and hope to find out what they have available! I will share any updates as soon as I can.  I would also urge you to write a letter or email to floral foam manufacturers suggesting they make a switch to nontoxic and biodegradable. Here's a couple of the top manufacturers: Smithers Oasis, Ultra Floral Foam. In the mean time, I totally avoid the stuff, and find creative and fun ways to display flowers without foam.  Take a look at how Gorgeous and Green tries to stay sustainable: G&G Services.  I know it means more work sometimes and possibly more cost, but to me it's worth it.  And it's worth it to a lot of customers to, not to mention to the planet. Check out these two designs from Gorgeous and Green Events that are totally floral foam free:

GG bouquet blue fuschia

GG fruit and veggie glass

Courtesy of www.seandonnellyphotography.com     In Green and Health, G&G

Floral Foam: Not so green

Since people are having a hard time getting the msds sheets, I am copying and posting the msds sheet for smither's oasis foam and linking it here.

You can also contact the makers of the floral foam (like Smithers-Oasis) yourself and have them send you a copy of the MSDS sheets for their products, as many floral foods, dips, leaf shines and adhesives contain hazardous chemicals either for you or for the environment.  I found a few msds sheets here: but not all were thorough or up to date.  I did learn however, that some floral foods and cleaners are highly toxic to fish and sea and should not be disposed of in drains or sewers or anywhere where it can get into the water supply. Whatever you do, get the information you need and make healthy decisions for yourself, your family, co-workers and the environment!

Original post:

Have you ever seen that green foam that shows up at the bottom of flower arrangements?   You know, the green foam brick florists soak in water and use to model and water flowers? gg-floral-foam

Have you ever wondered what it's made of?

Well let's talk about it. I searched on google and found someone who had asked the same thing on blurtit.com.  Unfortunately the answer they were given left a lot to be desired. In fact, someone left a comment basically saying-just tell us what it's made of already!?!-   I've long wondered the same thing; but at florist supply stores, I can never seem to find the ingredients.    Why would we not want to be upfront about what's in this stuff called floral foam, what florists openly refer to as Oasis (the name for the most common version of this foam which is a registered trademark of Smithers-Oasis North America).   Maybe they don't really know, maybe it doesn't come with an ingredients label, or maybe it's because it's not made of good stuff. The basic element of floral foam is plastic. It's not biodegradable and has chemicals that I would consider toxic. But what's more, through the openness of information (sometimes via laws that are created through our government) this information is made available on the public skyway called the world wide web, so we can actually find out more for ourselves. Go ahead and take a look:  www.fdionline.net/Files/MSDS/SO-OasisFloralFoam6-05-06.pdf For those of you who just want it given to you straight, I'll abide. Basically it says that Oasis Floral Foam made by Smithers-Oasis of North America, is made of plastic that's not biodegradable and it has some hazardous components, namely: Formaldehyde, Carbon black, Proprietarty Acid Catalysts, Proprietarty Sulfactant and Barium Sulfate.  The first two being known as carcinogenic.  The document also suggests that this foam may be irritating to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract.  It also says that prolonged exposure to Formaldehyde and Carbon black may cause cancer.  There are a few pages of information about the hazards and possible symptoms both short term and long term.  Overall, it's a wealth of knowledge. It carries risks if dust from the foam is inhaled.   Formaldehyde leaches into the water that the foam is soaked in and if it's kept in hot or stagnant enclosures this may cause the formaldehyde to off-gas.  Some people get irritated by touching it.  Hmm. What does this mean to the floral consumer? Well, you might want to ask your florist not to use it.  If it is used, dispose of it properly and don't burn it. What does this mean to the floral designer and florist?  I might suggest that if you are concerned about your own health, you would avoid using floral foam. If you are concerned about the health of your customers,or the health of the environment and our communities, and want to prevent the build up of our massive landfills and the leaching of toxins into our water and land, then you might consider avoiding this stuff. One green step I've taken in my floral business is to avoid plastic whenever possible, so floral foam is out of the question anyway. But, it does give me relief knowing I'm not putting my own health at risk or that of my community/planet around me by using floral foam. This is no easy task however, as floral foam makes it so much easier to make exciting and modeled arrangements. But there are methods that we can start practicing instead until someone out there starts selling the biodegradable and non toxic version.  (which someone has probably already created and just needs to mass market)   Curled up branches or balls of wire can be helpful in securing an arrangement.  And I'm sure if you really put your mind to it, you can find other ways to display beauty without the foam. In Green and Health, G&G