Ambient formaldehyde levels in houses are typically .03 to .04 parts per million. The Law Reference File #9 – Quebec Real Estate Association, House Buyers Find UFFI, But Only Get $100 Damages From B.C. The costly “remedial” measures and the long term stigma attached to UFFI houses became a marketplace reality because of the perceived health problems. The foam was machine mixed on-site, and injected into wall cavities where it expanded to fill the cavity. UFFI was not a do-it-yourself product. The National Research Council of Canada (1985), Mr. Bob Platts – Scanada Consultants Limited – Ottawa, Ontario, Dr. Geoffrey Norman – Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics Houses with new carpeting can also reach these levels. Eventually, the possible health risks due to formaldehyde emissions lead to its ban in most countries by 1980. Liquid foam was sprayed into an area to be insulated where it expanded to completely fill the space and hardened. Mild to incapacitating symptoms have been reported in occupants of urea formaldehyde-insulated homes. 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. A laboratory study which produced nasal cancers in rats that were exposed to high levels of formaldehyde, increased the concern. Formaldehyde is colorless, but has a very strong odor, which can generally be detected at concentrations above one part per million. About urea formaldehyde-based foam insulation (UFFI) Urea formaldehyde-based thermal insulation (UFFI): is a foam that was once used to insulate buildings has been banned in Canada under the Hazardous Products Act since 1980 Urea-formaldehyde foam was initially used decades ago when Cavity Wall Insulation was first introduced. The threshold level became very conservative, indeed. Very quickly, fear and suspicion led to the conclusion that a problem must exist. 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. Urea-formaldehyde foam cavity insulation are described by characteristics such as thermal conductivity (maximum). Formaldehyde consistently ranks among the top 50 manufacturing chemicals by volume. A. Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas, and is a very common industrial and commercial chemical. None were linked to UFFI. (In other mobile home studies, any elevated levels of formaldehyde were traced to the panelling or carpets, not UFFI.) Urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) is a mixture of urea formaldehyde resin, foaming agent and propellant, which was used to insulate hard to access areas in buildings. We would further urge real estate associations and boards across Canada to consider dropping the UFFI clause from purchase contracts. Information Bulletin – Heat Recovery Ventilators, Home Owners With Urea – Foam Insulation Lose Civil Suit For Damages  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. Lawyer’s Weekly (July 7, 1989). One of the first problem cases involving formaldehyde was in the United States. Research was initiated to evaluate the problem, and to determine what should be done. Division of Building Research U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C. (1990), Builder’s Note #3 – Formaldehyde Some formaldehyde gas is released during the on-site mixing and curing. Development Of A Canadian Standard For Urea Formaldehyde Thermal Wall Insulation 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. The Canadian Home Builder’s Association, Millions To Remove Urea Foam, But Health Risk Still Unknown Urea-formaldehyde foam was initially used decades ago when Cavity Wall Insulation was first introduced. Products made of urea formaldehyde can release formaldehyde gas; products made of phenol formaldehyde generally emit lower levels of the gas. Urea-formaldehyde insulation is a foam sprayed between wall cavities. While we do not believe UFFI to be a problem, other household materials and products can produce formaldehyde, and other air pollutants for that matter. Many products use formaldehyde during the manufacturing process. It is a retrofit upgrade and easily injected into an existing wall using hoses. 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). The insulation was approved in Canada for use in exterior wood-frame walls only. A. Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was developed in the 1950s in Europe to insulate hard-to-reach wall cavities. The insulation was used in the 1970′s, most extensively from 1975 to 1978, during the period of the Canadian Home Insulation Program (CHIP), when financial incentives were offered by the government to upgrade home insulation levels. Information Bulletin – Formaldehyde The same house tested two weeks later showed levels typical of any house, with or without UFFI. Urea formaldehyde (UF) resins are very reactive and suitable for gluing all wood species as well as applications in insulation and firelighter manufacture. UFFI Insulation - What Was the Urea Formaldehyde Insulation Worry. urea-formaldehyde foam insulation What is UFFI UREA-FORMALDEHYDE FOAM INSULATION? 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. Great to have a woman doing the job.”, — Susan Krever, Chestnut Park Real Estate. UFFI is still used in Europe, where it was never banned and is considered one of the better “retrofit” insulations. UFFI or Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation was an insulation retrofit product used in the 1970's. In the past, urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was installed in wall cavities of houses for the purpose of energy conservation. By: Alan Carson Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd. and John Caverly, Building Inspection Consultants & Associates. Like many new and fast growing industries (particularly those supported by government grants), workmanship and quality control were often less than perfect. The presence of UFFI does not affect the amount of formaldehyde in the indoor air. 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. McMaster University Health Science Center Urea-formaldehyde insulation is not the only source of formaldehyde in the home. Urea formaldehyde foam is a relatively inexpensive, easily installed, and efficient insulation. 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. The problem was further complicated by the fact that the foam was often used somewhat inappropriately in walls of solid masonry houses, in attics, in cavities where freeze-up of pipes had occurred, and even as an acoustical insulation in party walls in row houses, and in the ceilings between the first and second floor of the house. 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. Laboratory Test: Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI/UFI) LCS Laboratory Inc., offers laboratory tests for the detection of formaldehyde in foam insulation . 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. Urea-Formaldehyde Foam Insulation. Division of Building Research Although there were no substantiated problems clearly attributable to the foam, urea formaldehyde foam insulation was banned as a precautionary measure. WHAT IF YOU HAVE DAMP PROBLEMS IN YOUR HOUSE? “All CD inspections are handled professionally and done in a way that the home buyer does not feel anxiety about any issues that are discovered.”, — Al Daimee, Royal LePage Real Estate Services, “I wouldn’t use anyone else but Carson And Dunlop for my inspections.”, — Cindy Daly, Royal Le Page Johnston & Daniel, “Sheila. Those charged with the task of designing and refining remedial measures set out to find the worst cases to test their theories, but they encountered an unexpected problem. The Institute For Research In Construction Pure UF resins are widely used where moisture resistance is not required. Information Bulletin – Information Update Insulated With Urea Formaldehyde Foam 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. 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. No one knew exactly how many homes had UFFI, and it was often difficult to find out whether a home had UFFI. A Case Study This article series illustrates and describes UFFI - urea formaldehyde foam building insulation and describes where it is found, when it was used in buildings, how to look for it, how to distinguish this from other building foam insulation products, and its health effects. 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. 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. Mild to incapacitating symptoms have been reported in occupants of urea formaldehyde-insulated homes. Urea-formaldehyde foam (UFF) insulation. Diazolidinyl Urea is a … UFFI was used in 50,000-70,000 Australian homes, although it is no longer used in this way. These fears caused a reduction in the value of real estate. UFFI is a foam, like shaving cream, that is easily injected or pumped into walls. You can book your home inspection online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 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. It is foam with the consistency of shaving cream. Toxicity from this insulation is related to release of free formaldehyde into the home. The extent of use in commercial buildings is unknown. The insulation was also used extensively in the United States during the 1970′s, and has been used in Europe over the last thirty years. When no correlation could be found between formaldehyde gas and health problems, other possible problems related to UFFI were investigated. 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. A process and apparatus are provided for making desired shapes of urea-formaldehyde suitable for use as insulation from urea-formaldehyde foam. 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). Toxicity from this insulation is related to release of free formaldehyde into the home. However, studies done after the ban showed increased reporting of symptoms, even for such things as constipation and deafness which have no biological basis. 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). This started to raise government suspicions about the insulation. Information Bulletin – How To Determine Whether You Have UFFI In Your Home. 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. While very popular in Canada in the late 1970s, it was banned there in 1980. Fluid urea-formaldehyde foam (A) is formed into discrete particles (A') in particle generator (10) which also partially cures particles (A'). Join the tens of thousands of satisfied clients who got peace of mind with a Carson Dunlop home inspection. The Globe & Mail Newspaper (March 29, 1986), Consumer and Corporate Affairs Canada (UFFI Center) Urea Formaldehyde foam is made on site to the pre-defined British Standards 'recipe'. 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. The Globe & Mail Newspaper, Toronto (December 14, 1991), Dropping The UFFI Clause: What Are Members Bound To Do? It is estimated that over 100,000 homes in Canada were insulated with UFFI (commonly pronounced “you-fee”). 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. 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. There are two types of formaldehyde resins: urea formaldehyde (UF) and phenol formaldehyde (PF). The National Research Council of Canada (April 1981), Building Practice Note #23 – Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation Judge Questions & answers about UFFI hazards, identification in buildings & Hazards. As you can imagin it is now dust. Information Booklet – UFFI Contact Wall Cavity Claims today on free phone 0800-8-654321 or visit www.wallcavityclaims.co.uk, Your email address will not be published. Urea formaldehyde (UF) foam was a common choice: it is much less popular now. Problem Identification & Remedial Measures for Wood Frame Construction It occurs naturally in forests and is a necessary metabolite in our body cells. UFFI or Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation was an insulation retrofit product used in the 1970's. In fact, in reviewing several thousand files, not one house was found with levels of formaldehyde which remained above 0.1 ppm! (UFFI) was developed in Europe in the 1950s as an improved means of insulating difficult-to-reach cavities in house walls. 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. How common is UFFI? Required fields are marked *. It is not the purpose of this paper to determine why or how all of this controversy arose without any proof. By comparison, typical levels in the smoking section of a cafeteria are 0.16 ppm. The highest levels were found in homes with brand new carpeting which were tested on a hot summer day. I have in my cavity Urea Formaldehyde insulation, which was put in 23years ago. A number of studies have been done examining the health effects of UFFI. It became known that the levels of formaldehyde decrease rapidly after the foam has been installed. Urea formaldehyde foam insulation is injected as a mixture of urea formaldehyde resin, an acidic foaming agent, and a propellant, such as air. It became popular in North America following the energy crisis of … Thorough and puts things into proper perspective. Information Bulletin – Purchase Of A Home Insulated With UFFI I have been told that the cavity wall insulators will sort this … Urea formaldehyde foam is a relatively inexpensive, easily installed, and efficient insulation. A question we get asked a lot about urea-formaldehyde foam insulation is; Is it dangerous? It is a common ingredient in many household furnishings and consumer products. The National Research Council of Canada (1981),  Building Practice Note #19 – Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation  There was no damage to house framing or materials caused by UFFI. 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. Similarly, we would ask mortgage lenders not to penalize those who have UFFI in their homes. Few issues have stronger impact than a potential health concern, especially if the suspected cause is new, poorly understood and widely used. Broder, I., Cole, P., Corey, P., Lipa, M., Mintz, S. & Nethercott, J. Rosen, (1988)  “Environmental Research, Volume 45″, Pages 141 – 203. The owners of properties with this type of insulation should not be penalized financially, and no stigma should be attached to these homes. Urea formaldehyde foam is a relatively inexpensive, easily installed, and efficient insulation. Comparison of Health of Occupants and Characteristics of Houses Among Controlled Homes and Homes UFFI is one of the most thoroughly investigated, and most innocuous building products we have used. UFFI was a type of insulation that was widely used around the World, including Canada, USA, and Europe. The higher the humidity levels and the higher the temperature, the more gas is likely to be released. Information Bulletin – Interim Corrective Measures Checklist The insulation was banned in December 1980, in Canada. It is typically made at a construction site from a mixture of urea-formaldehyde resin, a foaming agent and compressed air. 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. As the body of information grew, it became clear that finding a single house that exceeded this very conservative threshold level was going to be a challenge. It is this by-product of the curing of the foam that became a controversial issue. Hamilton, Ontario, Warning On Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation The fears of cancer and other health problems were only the beginning of the story. Booklet About UFFI Urea Formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was used in the early 1900's in many residential and commercial buildings as a subsequent or main insulating material in walls and ceiling spaces. I would like it removed but cannot find a company in the UK that will remove it. (Again, while this may not be statistically significant, it suggests that low levels of formaldehyde are not harmful.). UFFI is not widely used in the USA today. 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. It is made by using a pump set and hose with a mixing gun to mix the foaming agent, resin, and compressed air. It completes its expansion by moulding itself to the unusual shapes within the cavity, and sets to form a rigid insulant by drying through the outer wall into the atmosphere. With rising energy costs, the practice of insulating cavity walls became widespread in the late-1970s and 80s. Suffice to say that people with the best intentions were working in the public interest, and perhaps erred on the conservative side. Urea formaldehyde foam insulation is injected as a mixture of urea formaldehyde resin, an acidic foaming agent, and a propellant, such as air. The National Research Council of Canada (August 1981), Exposure To High Concentration Of Formaldehyde. Studies using random samples of UFFI and non-UFFI homes done before the ban showed no impact of UFFI on health. 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. This is mainly due to an increase in the usage of pressed wood produc… These subjects were found to have a less than average number of respiratory diseases, and actually lived slightly longer on average, on the whole. Formaldehyde is both a naturally occurring chemical, and an industrial chemical. Indeed, while not statistically significant, the homes tested were found, on average, to have formaldehyde levels slightly below that of homes of similar ages without UFFI. The initial threshold level set for formaldehyde gas was 1.0 part per million (ppm). The conclusion to be drawn from all this is that urea formaldehyde foam insulation has not been shown to be a health concern. mold and fungi, dust mites, and un-named “UFFI gases” were all investigated as possibilities. 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. An example use may be within a cavity wall insulation system. This involved an extremely air-tight and poorly ventilated mobile home, apparently with a poorly-mixed, half-formed UFFI. This allows formaldehyde gas to be released into the air of a UFFI-insulated building. Information Bulletin – Corrective Measures – Ceiling 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. Formaldehyde in the insulation, even if properly installed, reacts with heat and humidity in the air. Great inspector. 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. 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. 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. Information Bulletin – Technical Research Even in the few houses that tested at levels approaching 0.1 ppm, these results were rarely duplicated in subsequent testing. It is typically made at a construction site from a mixture of urea-formaldehyde resin, a foaming agent and compressed air. The foam is then injected into the cavity through 19mm holes, in a wet foam state 90-95% pre expanded. 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. Energy Mines Resources Canada, An Update On Formaldehyde  The rate at which formaldehyde gasses are released from materials into the air depends on temperature and humidity. UFFI is simply not the problem it was once feared to be. Within several days of the application, formaldehyde levels typically return to ambient house levels. They provide a very cost effective solution for general applications with short cure times and low cure temperatures. 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. 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. 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. 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. Very detail-oriented. 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. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. It has a reasonably good R value (thermal resistance). Your email address will not be published. Urea formaldehyde insulation was manufactured in the fifties but became popular in the seventies as energy prices began to rise. Toxicity from this insulation is related to release of free formaldehyde into the home. The federal government set guidelines for reducing formaldehyde levels in houses, and removal techniques were specified. 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. The curing of the most thoroughly investigated, and most innocuous building products we have used,. 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