Formaldehyde is both a naturally occurring chemical, and an industrial chemical. In retrospect, although the results were unfortunate, we would hate to think that people responsible for the health of consumers would err on the other side. The thermal resistance of a standard stud wall foamed with urea formaldehyde foam insulation has been measured in an in-situ test under field conditions. Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation is typically is a white foam and can appear as either still intact in a hard foam or broken down in a powder form. The same house tested two weeks later showed levels typical of any house, with or without UFFI. Urea-formaldehyde foam was initially used decades ago when Cavity Wall Insulation was first introduced. I have in my cavity Urea Formaldehyde insulation, which was put in 23years ago. Overview. Formaldehyde is colorless, but has a very strong odor, which can generally be detected at concentrations above one part per million. Questions & answers about UFFI hazards, identification in buildings & Hazards. Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was developed in Europe in the 1950s as an improved means of insulating difficult-to-reach cavities in house walls. While very popular in Canada in the late 1970s, it was banned there in 1980. Mild to incapacitating symptoms have been reported in occupants of urea formaldehyde-insulated homes. How common is UFFI? In the case of UFFI, the uneasiness and uncertainty were especially difficult to fathom or control, since the material was hidden from sight, and the reported symptoms were identical to those often experienced in our heated, dry indoor air. Some formaldehyde gas is released during the on-site mixing and curing. You can book your home inspection online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Long term health implications are less known; however, some studies suggest formaldehyde could be a possible human carcinogen, capable of causing cancer in humans, under conditions of unusually high or prolonged exposure. Great inspector. Energy Mines Resources Canada, An Update On Formaldehyde  The National Research Council of Canada (August 1981), Exposure To High Concentration Of Formaldehyde. If you suspect your indoor air quality to be poor, there are Environmental Consultants listed in the Yellow Pages of your phone book, often in the Business and Industrial section. If you’ve got issues of any other nature with your Cavity Wall Insulation that may be down to the installer not following proper guidelines as to the install. Urea Formaldehyde foam is made on site to the pre-defined British Standards 'recipe'. In April 1983, the U.S. Court of Appeal struck down the law because there was no substantial evidence clearly linking UFFI to health complaints. The initial threshold level set for formaldehyde gas was 1.0 part per million (ppm). (In other mobile home studies, any elevated levels of formaldehyde were traced to the panelling or carpets, not UFFI.) None were linked to UFFI. UFFI was installed in many thousands of homes throughout North America in the early 1970’s to help reduce fuel consumption used for heating and cooling during the energy crisis of that time period. Research was initiated to evaluate the problem, and to determine what should be done. Unfortunately, the items appraisers are most frequently requested to address are concealed items such as asbestos, urea-formaldehyde insulation, PCBs, lead paint, and radon gas. A Case Study In a study in Britain, people who worked in environments with high formaldehyde levels, such as morticians and laboratory technicians, were studied for possible health effects. Liquid foam was sprayed into an area to be insulated where it expanded to completely fill the space and hardened. It became known that the levels of formaldehyde decrease rapidly after the foam has been installed. Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI) is a type of insulation that was widely used in the 1970's for insulating and retrofitting industrial, commercial and older residential buildings. The fears of cancer and other health problems were only the beginning of the story. The foam was machine mixed on-site, and injected into wall cavities where it expanded to fill the cavity. The National Research Council of Canada (April 1981), Building Practice Note #23 – Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation This involved an extremely air-tight and poorly ventilated mobile home, apparently with a poorly-mixed, half-formed UFFI. A court case which eventually set records was initiated in Quebec, in which the claimants accused the federal government, manufacturers and others of bringing a dangerous material to the market. UFFI is one of the most thoroughly investigated, and most innocuous building products we have used. It is now apparent that hundreds of thousands of home owners across the UK will need remedial work that will consist of a full extraction of the Cavity Wall Insulation and could well mean a whole host of other repairs and replacements directly caused by the install. Urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) has been out of the spotlight, but going into a lot of buildings—often being referred to as Amino Foam. Booklet About UFFI Most insulation that is older than 10 years’ old that is not fibreglass batts can contain formaldehyde (even if not UFFI), and warrants an inspection from the professionals at InsulGuard Insulation. The highest levels were found in homes with brand new carpeting which were tested on a hot summer day. Urea formaldehyde insulation was manufactured in the fifties but became popular in the seventies as energy prices began to rise. In working on major updates and expansions to The BuildingGreen Guide to Insulation, we’ve had an opportunity to dig into some of the insulation products out there that you don't hear so much about. This type of insulation gradually degrades over the years and falls to the bottom of the cavity making it less efficient the older it becomes. mold and fungi, dust mites, and un-named “UFFI gases” were all investigated as possibilities. It has a reasonably good R value (thermal resistance). Many products use formaldehyde during the manufacturing process. UFFI or Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation was an insulation retrofit product used in the 1970's. In the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the sale of UFFI in the United States in 1982, and shortly thereafter a law prohibiting the sale of urea formaldehyde was enacted. It is this by-product of the curing of the foam that became a controversial issue. Great to have a woman doing the job.”, — Susan Krever, Chestnut Park Real Estate. Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI) is a home insulation made of urea formaldehyde resin and a foaming agent, blown or pumped into the walls and ceiling. There was no damage to house framing or materials caused by UFFI. Information Bulletin – Corrective Measures – Ceiling Contact Wall Cavity Claims today on free phone 0800-8-654321 or visit www.wallcavityclaims.co.uk, Your email address will not be published. Information Bulletin – Interim Corrective Measures Checklist The rate at which formaldehyde gasses are released from materials into the air depends on temperature and humidity. UFFI is not widely used in the USA today. LANDLORDS AND CAVITY WALL INSULATION PROBLEMS, Cavity Wall Insulation Failure, Energy Loss & Financial Liability, Problems caused by Cavity Wall Insulation can be harder to spot than you might think, British Gas and FAILED Wall Cavity Insulation – The Big 6. The Canadian Home Builder’s Association, Millions To Remove Urea Foam, But Health Risk Still Unknown This expanding foam insulation was mixed on-site and then pumped into building wall or other cavities in older buildings which were not previously insulated. Join the tens of thousands of satisfied clients who got peace of mind with a Carson Dunlop home inspection. Ambient formaldehyde levels in houses are typically .03 to .04 parts per million. After the longest and most expensive civil case ever held in Canada (eight years) was concluded in the Quebec Superior Court, not only was no basis for a settlement found, but the plaintiffs were obliged to pay most of the costs. The federal government set guidelines for reducing formaldehyde levels in houses, and removal techniques were specified. Urea formaldehyde foam is a relatively inexpensive, easily installed, and efficient insulation. Required fields are marked *. When no correlation could be found between formaldehyde gas and health problems, other possible problems related to UFFI were investigated. This is mainly due to an increase in the usage of pressed wood produc… Urea formaldehyde foam is a relatively inexpensive, easily installed, and efficient insulation. Urea-formaldehyde insulation is not the only source of formaldehyde in the home. UFFI was not a do-it-yourself product. The purpose of this paper is to provide home owners and home buyers with the facts, and some guidance, concerning the use and safety of urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI). Division of Building Research Urea-formaldehyde insulation Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) dates to the 1930s and made a synthetic insulation with R-values near 5.0 per inch. Urea formaldehyde foam insulation is injected as a mixture of urea formaldehyde resin, an acidic foaming agent, and a propellant, such as air. Thorough and puts things into proper perspective. UFFI is simply not the problem it was once feared to be. Broder, I., Cole, P., Corey, P., Lipa, M., Mintz, S. & Nethercott, J. Rosen, (1988)  “Environmental Research, Volume 45″, Pages 141 – 203. EPA makes use of the time period “formaldehyde” to cover both free formaldehyde gasoline and methylene glycol, or formaldehyde solution, on its stock of chemicals manufactured or imported into the U.S. (EPA 2010A). WHAT IF YOU HAVE DAMP PROBLEMS IN YOUR HOUSE? This allows formaldehyde gas to be released into the air of a UFFI-insulated building. urea-formaldehyde foam insulation What is UFFI UREA-FORMALDEHYDE FOAM INSULATION? Division of Building Research The Globe & Mail Newspaper, Toronto (December 14, 1991), Dropping The UFFI Clause: What Are Members Bound To Do? U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C. (1990), Builder’s Note #3 – Formaldehyde Urea-Formaldehyde Foam Insulation. (UFFI) was developed in Europe in the 1950s as an improved means of insulating difficult-to-reach cavities in house walls. Urea-formaldehyde insulation is a foam sprayed between wall cavities. It is found in dry cleaning chemicals, paper products, no-iron fabrics, diapers, pillow cases, the glue in particle board and plywood, cosmetics, paints, cigarette smoke, and the exhaust from automobiles, gas appliances, fireplaces, wood stoves. A process and apparatus are provided for making desired shapes of urea-formaldehyde suitable for use as insulation from urea-formaldehyde foam. Laboratory Test: Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI/UFI) LCS Laboratory Inc., offers laboratory tests for the detection of formaldehyde in foam insulation . This type of insulation gradually degrades over the years and falls to the bottom of the cavity making it less efficient the older it becomes. One of the first problem cases involving formaldehyde was in the United States. Urea formaldehyde foam insulation In the 1970s and ’80s, there was a rush to insulate thousands of homes as quickly and cheaply as possible – and this saw the widespread use of formaldehyde foam insulation, sprayed into cavity walls. Even in the few houses that tested at levels approaching 0.1 ppm, these results were rarely duplicated in subsequent testing. Urea-formaldehyde foam was initially used decades ago when Cavity Wall Insulation was first introduced. A number of studies have been done examining the health effects of UFFI. UFFI is still used in Europe, where it was never banned and is considered one of the better “retrofit” insulations. Development Of A Canadian Standard For Urea Formaldehyde Thermal Wall Insulation A. Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was developed in the 1950s in Europe to insulate hard-to-reach wall cavities. With rising energy costs, the practice of insulating cavity walls became widespread in the late-1970s and 80s. It was commonly used in existing houses by injecting the foam into areas, such as behind walls, where it was impractical to provide conventional insulation. In fact, in reviewing several thousand files, not one house was found with levels of formaldehyde which remained above 0.1 ppm! Toxicity from this insulation is related to release of free formaldehyde into the home. It occurs naturally in forests and is a necessary metabolite in our body cells. Products made of urea formaldehyde can release formaldehyde gas; products made of phenol formaldehyde generally emit lower levels of the gas. In the past, urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was installed in wall cavities of houses for the purpose of energy conservation. The extent of use in commercial buildings is unknown. UFFI is a low density foam that has the appearance and consistency of shaving cream, and becomes stiff and self supporting when it dries or cures (hardens). Urea formaldehyde (UF) resins are very reactive and suitable for gluing all wood species as well as applications in insulation and firelighter manufacture. By: Alan Carson Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd. and John Caverly, Building Inspection Consultants & Associates. The National Research Council of Canada (1985), Mr. Bob Platts – Scanada Consultants Limited – Ottawa, Ontario, Dr. Geoffrey Norman – Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics It is typically made at a construction site from a mixture of urea-formaldehyde resin, a foaming agent and compressed air. UFFI was used in 50,000-70,000 Australian homes, although it is no longer used in this way. It is made by using a pump set and hose with a mixing gun to mix the foaming agent, resin, and compressed air. By comparison, typical levels in the smoking section of a cafeteria are 0.16 ppm. Old houses, especially ones constructed during the 1970s, often still have UFFI installed in them, but the amount of formaldehyde emissions in these houses is considerably lower than that in newer homes. An example use may be within a cavity wall insulation system. As you can imagin it is now dust. A. Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas, and is a very common industrial and commercial chemical. The Institute For Research In Construction Insulated With Urea Formaldehyde Foam As it degrades it can produce a gas, which if disturbed and exposed to people living in the property, has the potential to cause; watery eyes, burning eyes and nose, as well as coughing and wheezing. Information Bulletin – Heat Recovery Ventilators, Home Owners With Urea – Foam Insulation Lose Civil Suit For Damages  It is estimated that over 100,000 homes in Canada were insulated with UFFI (commonly pronounced “you-fee”). Toxicity from this insulation is related to release of free formaldehyde into the home. Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was developed in Europe in the 1950s as an improved means of insulating difficult-to-reach cavities in house walls. Urea formaldehyde (UF) foam was a common choice: it is much less popular now. Information Bulletin – How To Determine Whether You Have UFFI In Your Home. The National Research Council of Canada (1981),  Building Practice Note #19 – Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation  Urea-formaldehyde foam cavity insulation are described by characteristics such as thermal conductivity (maximum). No one knew exactly how many homes had UFFI, and it was often difficult to find out whether a home had UFFI. The presence of UFFI does not affect the amount of formaldehyde in the indoor air. Your CIGA guarantee may be effective in these circumstances and you should check your guarantee as soon as possible, as if it is left without being treated, it could end up a lot more expensive for you and your health. There are two types of formaldehyde resins: urea formaldehyde (UF) and phenol formaldehyde (PF). The insulation was approved in Canada for use in exterior wood-frame walls only. Information Bulletin – Formaldehyde Within several days of the application, formaldehyde levels typically return to ambient house levels. Very quickly, fear and suspicion led to the conclusion that a problem must exist. As the first formaldehyde free mineral wool insulation in North America, the formaldehyde-free Thermafiber® mineral wool insulation solutions represent a breakthrough for architects, specifiers and contractors interested in achieving sustainable building standards. A question we get asked a lot about urea-formaldehyde foam insulation is; Is it dangerous? I have been told that the cavity wall insulators will sort this … This expanding foam insulation was mixed on-site and then pumped into building wall or other cavities in older buildings which were not previously insulated. The Law Reference File #9 – Quebec Real Estate Association, House Buyers Find UFFI, But Only Get $100 Damages From B.C. They couldn’t find any UFFI insulated houses with formaldehyde gas levels above 0.1 ppm, let alone 0.5 ppm or 1.0 ppm. It is a retrofit upgrade and easily injected into an existing wall using hoses. Like many new and fast growing industries (particularly those supported by government grants), workmanship and quality control were often less than perfect. Following some press releases and cautioning by authorities, a number of home owners began to report problems that included respiratory difficulties, eye irritation, running noses, nosebleeds, headaches and fatigue. A laboratory study which produced nasal cancers in rats that were exposed to high levels of formaldehyde, increased the concern. Studies using random samples of UFFI and non-UFFI homes done before the ban showed no impact of UFFI on health. Formaldehyde consistently ranks among the top 50 manufacturing chemicals by volume. Information Booklet – UFFI Comparison of Health of Occupants and Characteristics of Houses Among Controlled Homes and Homes Toxicity from this insulation is related to release of free formaldehyde into the home. These subjects were found to have a less than average number of respiratory diseases, and actually lived slightly longer on average, on the whole. The foam is then injected into the cavity through 19mm holes, in a wet foam state 90-95% pre expanded. If you have urea-formaldehyde foam insulation in your property it may be worth considering removing and replacing the insulation to improve the efficiency of your home, and to avoid any potential health implications if the insulation becomes disturbed. Your email address will not be published. McMaster University Health Science Center This started to raise government suspicions about the insulation. It is typically made at a construction site from a mixture of urea-formaldehyde resin, a foaming agent and compressed air. I would like it removed but cannot find a company in the UK that will remove it. Few issues have stronger impact than a potential health concern, especially if the suspected cause is new, poorly understood and widely used. UFFI Insulation - What Was the Urea Formaldehyde Insulation Worry. We would further urge real estate associations and boards across Canada to consider dropping the UFFI clause from purchase contracts. We believe that those who have urea formaldehyde foam insulation in their homes should enjoy their houses, and sleep well at night. As testing methods improved, the level was brought down to 0.5 ppm and, eventually, 0.1 ppm. Suffice to say that people with the best intentions were working in the public interest, and perhaps erred on the conservative side. It is the sincere hope of the authors that the market place will respond appropriately. Information Bulletin – Technical Research It is not the purpose of this paper to determine why or how all of this controversy arose without any proof. The threshold level became very conservative, indeed. Hamilton, Ontario, Warning On Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (Again, while this may not be statistically significant, it suggests that low levels of formaldehyde are not harmful.). Urea-formaldehyde foam (UFF) insulation. 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