The Best Insulation for Existing Homes

Published: Aug 09, 2021

Health Canada

Health Canada

Polymaster® products contain small amounts of formaldehyde which can be found at similar levels in both outdoor and indoor air.  In fact, it is present in every cell in the human body.  Formaldehyde occurs naturally in the environment and is an important industrial chemical used to make other chemicals, like building materials and household products, and has been in commercial use since the late 1880’s.  Products that may add formaldehyde to the air include particleboard commonly used as flooring underlayment, shelving, furniture and cabinets, hardwood plywood wall panels, carpeting, draperies, grocery bags and tissues, as well as urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI).

In the 1970’s, UFFI became popular as an excellent thermal insulator in both commercial and residential construction.  As it became more popular, consumer groups began to raise concerns about the safety of the new product, and in 1982, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), without public hearings, proposed a rule banning UFFI in residences and schools.

In 1983, however, a unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated the UFFI ban by the CSPC on the grounds that the record upon which the Commission relied did not contain evidence necessary to support the ban in homes and was totally devoid of evidence to support the ban in schools.  Click here to view a copy of the Fifth Circuit’s published opinion overturning the CSPC ban.

No scientific evidence has been developed since to indicate that UFFI poses a significant risk to humans in either residential or commercial application. Recent attention was drawn to formaldehyde in 2004 when the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared the substance to be a human carcinogen; however, formaldehyde was already regulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) as a carcinogen here in the US prior to the IARC ruling.

There is a small amount of formaldehyde present in the raw materials which is reported in Polymaster’s MSDS for the resin, however Polymaster® Retrofoam Foam Insulation meets all product performance standards required under the CPSC.  The most recent Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Polymaster® Retrofoam Foam Insulation can be  viewed by clicking here.

Moreover, in a recent study reported in January 2009, a certified independent testing lab completed a comprehensive study of air quality in residential construction before and after installation of the Polymaster® product.  The study concluded that the indoor air contaminants were found to be well below even the Canadian government’s more stringent exposure guidelines for formaldehyde.

A 1985 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulation covering the use of pressed wood products in manufactured housing was designed to ensure that indoor levels are below 0.4 ppm.  UFFI insulated houses have been found to consistently have formaldehyde levels less than 0.1 ppm, and the levels decrease rapidly after installation.  UFFI is safe.  Scientific testing has consistently proven and the U.S. Government has continued to recognize, that over the past 25 plus years since the safety of UFFI was first challenged, that it is safe for both residential and commercial construction, including schools.  It is expected that further examination of the scientific evidence by Canadian authorities will result in a favorable resolution of the recent developments with RetrofoamTM  in Canada.

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