Is Formaldehyde-Foam Insulation Safe? - Fine Homebuilding
  • The Passive House Build
    The Passive House Build
  • Video: Build a curved step
    Video: Build a curved step
  • Shorten a Prehung Door
    Shorten a Prehung Door
  • Clever daily tip in your inbox
    Clever daily tip in your inbox
  • Energy-Smart Details
    Energy-Smart Details
  • 7 Smart Kitchen Solutions
    7 Smart Kitchen Solutions
  • Tips & Techniques for Painting
    Tips & Techniques for Painting
  • Buyer's Guide to Insulation
    Buyer's Guide to Insulation
  • 7 Trim Carpentry Secrets
    7 Trim Carpentry Secrets
  • Remodeling in Action
    Remodeling in Action
  • Play the Inspector Game!
    Play the Inspector Game!
  • How to Install Housewrap Solo
    How to Install Housewrap Solo
  • The Hobbit House and More
    The Hobbit House and More
  • Basement Remodeling Tips
    Basement Remodeling Tips
  • Electrical Articles & Videos
    Electrical Articles & Videos
  • 9 Concrete Countertops Ideas
    9 Concrete Countertops Ideas
  • Magazine Departments
    Magazine Departments
  • Deck Design & Construction
    Deck Design & Construction
  • 12 Remodeling Secrets
    12 Remodeling Secrets
  • All about Roofing
    All about Roofing
  • Master Carpenter Videos
    Master Carpenter Videos
  • 7 Small Bathroom Layouts
    7 Small Bathroom Layouts
  • Read FHB on Your iPad
    Read FHB on Your iPad

Editor's Notepad

Editor's Notepad

Is Formaldehyde-Foam Insulation Safe?

comments (1) September 15th, 2010 in Blogs
Polyurethane is king when it comes to spray-foam, but some builders are looking at a few not-so-new alternatives.Click To Enlarge

Polyurethane is king when it comes to spray-foam, but some builders are looking at a few not-so-new alternatives.

Getting the facts on phenol-formaldehyde foam

When high-performance builders talk about spray-foam insulation, they’re typically talking about polyurethane. But it turns out there’s more than one kind of spray foam used in residential construction.

Although not as widely known, phenol-formaldehyde and urea-formaldehyde insulation also are available, and that’s the focus of this week’s Q&A Spotlight at Green Building Advisor.

Urea-formaldehyde earned a bad reputation in the 1970s after high levels of formaldehyde were detected in homes where it had been installed. Canada banned the foam outright, and some states in the U.S. continue to prohibit its use.

Some manufacturers turned to a phenol-formaldehyde resin with lower emissions. In the meantime, a urea-formaldehyde manufacturer says newer formulations meet federal formaldehyde standards.

How do these products differ, and how do they compare with urethane foam? The discussion points to the power and potential confusion over words, in this case the difference between “Tripolymer” and “tri-polymer.”

BuildingGreen’s Alex Wilson helps to sort it out, but admits that consumers will find it “remarkably difficult” to get the kind of information they’re looking for.

Read the full article and join the conversation at Green Building Advisor


Further resources:

What's the Difference: Spray polyurethane-foam insulation

New National Standard to Limit Formaldehyde Content?

Spray foam for the eco-conscious

Become a Fine Homebuilding Member

to view this article and over a thousand more

Learn More

posted in: Blogs, energy efficiency, insulation

Comments (1)

semar semar writes: I would not feel comfortable with poly spray foam.
They talk about "lower" emmissions. How low can you go?
Just because it is approved does not make me feel safe.

Other chemicals were considered safe only to be totally banned at a later date.(asbestos, thalidomide, etc)

Just check the local news in Vancouver BC where a highrise building was repaired with polyurethene foam. Now a problem arose - cause yet undetermined - but all occupants had to leave their premises; for days now until an undetermined return in the future,

Foam? not for me
Posted: 4:01 pm on September 21st

Log in or create a free account to post a comment.