Home Insulation Health and Safety
When you’re thinking about any product for your home, health and safety are obviously a priority—and insulation is no different. When it comes to health and safety properties, not all types of insulation are equal.
Flame resistance is, naturally, a primary consideration for insulation in the home.
Some factors to consider when comparing insulation types for fire safety:
- Fiberglass and mineral wool insulation
Materials are noncombustible, and remain so for the life of the product. They require no additional fire-retardant chemical treatments—in fact, unfaced fiberglass and mineral wool are accepted as a fire block in wood frames. Note that some fiberglass and mineral wool facings (kraft paper, foil) are combustible, but when properly installed with a code-approved barrier, don’t pose a fire hazard. Kraft facing should never be left exposed.
- Cellulose insulation
Products are largely made of newspaper, which is highly combustible. Even though it’s heavily treated with fire-retardant chemicals prior to installation, it is a recognized fire hazard by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).1
- Spray Foam insulation
Spray foam insulation will ignite at 700°F.2
Not all insulation materials have undergone the same level of testing and scrutiny when it comes to health and safety.
- Fiberglass insulation
Fiberglass insulation is the most thoroughly tested insulation material available. The International Agency of Research on Cancer (IARC), the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard and Assessment have all stated that fiberglass and mineral wool thermal and acoustic insulations are not considered classified as carcinogens.
- Cellulose insulation
Questions about the health and safety aspects of cellulose insulation persist in the building industry because very little medical or scientiﬁc testing of the products has been conducted. There’s still a need for full toxicological testing of dust from cellulose building insulation and dust from pure cellulose ﬁbers.3 Safety conclusions can’t really be drawn until extensive testing is completed.
- Spray foam
The safety of spray foam insulation is still being evaluated. If you’re worried about the impact of chemicals on your home and family, you’ll want to learn more about the chemical components of spray foam. According to the California Department of Toxic Substance Control, one of the main ingredients in spray foam, methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, could pose a number of health risks, including lung damage and asthma.