Is House Insulation Dangerous?

You may have read articles outlining the hazards of insulation in and around the house. Fiberglass insulation probably takes the most negative critiques on the receiving end amongst the many materials used for house insulation. Although no type of home insulation is perfectly 100% safe to use, you need not be alarmed of its harmful content if they are installed properly and effectively separated from living areas around the house.

So is house insulation dangerous? Insulation, per se, remains to be an important part of house construction. It keeps the cold outside and maintains the warmth inside and around the house during cold winter or stormy months. During summer, it keeps the hot and humid air outside, thus keeping things much cooler and tolerable when staying inside the house. A properly insulated house conserves more energy (whether for heating or cooling), lessens energy cost, and is very suitable in reducing noise pollution. 

But frankly speaking, other than these “helpful” benefits, several of the compositions found in insulation materials are indeed hazardous to one’s health. How is this so?

Three of the more popular and common insulation materials used in the market today would be fiberglass, spray polyurethane foam, and cellulose. Among the three, fiberglass covers about 90% of the US market when it comes to home insulation. The following are some of the known hazards of insulation materials.

Fiberglass Insulation:
• Direct exposure of fiberglass to the skin makes it red, itchy and irritated.
• Inhalation of the tiny bits of fiberglass into the lungs may cause serious respiratory diseases.
• When it comes in contact with the eyes it causes redness and seeing the difficulty.
• Although it does not give off toxic fumes, the resin used to bond fiberglass produces small quantities of carbon monoxide, ammonia, carbon dioxide, hydrogen cyanide, and other carbon particulates when burned.
• Leaks in ducts can carry a minute piece of fiberglass around the house and into the living areas.
• Moisture on fiberglass insulation can produce moulds which can cause a number of allergic reactions.

You can learn more about the hazards of insulation and its safety guidelines by watching the link to a short video as presented by Jennifer Keida of Standard Insulating Company.

Spray Polyurethane Foam:
• Causes irritation to the eyes, skin and lungs upon contact.
• It contains isocyanates, a chemical that when inhaled, can lead to sensitization, asthma, and other respiratory ailments.
• When not properly mixed, the chemicals contained in spray polyurethane foam remain toxic.
Cellulose Insulation:
• Because it is made from post-consumer recycled newspaper, it is susceptible to bacteria and fungi.
• It can be eaten by insects and become nesting materials for rodents.
• It needs to be chemically treated to make it safe against insects, bacteria and fungi.

Great care must be taken whenever handling or applying house insulation materials. They have toxic substances contained within which may prove harmful to humans either upon contact or emit toxic fumes when burned. Should you have questions and safety concerns regarding how safe is the insulation materials used for your house, it would be best to contact the experts and professionals in the field to ensure that you and your family’s health will be safe.