If you ask most people what the most important part of a house is, they’d most likely say the roof or foundation. While those areas and others play an essential role, there’s one element that many people take for granted: insulation.
The insulation in your walls, foundation, and ceiling keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Yet many people don’t know much about their home’s insulation, nor about the health hazard that it can pose in certain situations.
Let’s take a look at some of the different insulation types, as well as the insulation dangers that can come from them.
Fiberglass insulation is one of the most popular types of insulation, especially in the United States. An estimated 90% of homes across the country use fiberglass as their primary insulator.
Fiberglass is a reinforced plastic material that manufacturers make by weaving glass fibers with woven material. A binding substance ensures that everything stays together, and resin finishes it off, making it a durable and sturdy material.
Yet while powerful, fiberglass can be dangerous. Think about when a glass or window breaks—the glass is sharp, and if you touch it, you can hurt yourself. Fiberglass can have a similar effect on different areas of your body, such as your eyes, lungs, and skin.
As long as your home has proper insulation and ventilation, there shouldn’t be a problem. However, if your air duct leaks, it can suck up particles from the insulation and disperse them throughout your house. These particles can be toxic.
Although fiberglass is the go-to option for many homes, more and more people are beginning to use cellulose insulation. This insulator comes from recycled newspaper, making it a good choice for people who are trying to live sustainably.
However, given the fact that paper products are biodegradable, fungi, bacteria, and insects can all eat cellulose insulation, and rodents can use it for nests. To prevent those things from happening, companies treat it with chemicals, with around 20% of the insulator being composed of chemicals.
If installed correctly, the chemicals present in cellulose insulation shouldn’t provide any negative health effects. But, in certain situations, particles can leak out through small holes, especially by electrical outlets.
Depending on how sensitive you are to the chemicals found in the material, they may affect your health and general wellbeing.
Spray Polyurethane Foam
Another eco-friendly option, spray polyurethane foam continues to become more and more popular each year. It does a fantastic job at insulating, better than cellulose or fiberglass, which can help cut down on energy usage while also saving you money.
Yet while sustainable and energy-efficient, the chemicals that manufacturers use to make the foam can harm you. During the application process, workers need to wear special suits to prevent themselves from coming into contact with them.
After the foam has finished expanding and drying, you won’t have to worry about the chemicals posing a risk to your health. This is because the material becomes inert.
Just make sure that the company you work with mixes the materials the right way, otherwise the toxicity will remain. The foam can then harm you and your family even after it has finished drying.
How Insulation Can Affect Your Health
So is insulation dangerous?
Most people don’t have to worry about coming in contact with the insulation in their homes. Secured in walls and different areas, toxic particles (if there are any) usually have no way to escape into the living space.
However, if your home has a leak or a problem, that’s when you might start to see different health effects develop. Depending on how sensitive you or your family members are, these can be mild or severe.
Fiberglass can be one of the more dangerous particle types since as mentioned, it features tiny shards of glass. These can irritate your skin, regardless of whether you touch the material. It can also harm your eyes, and breathing it in can irritate your lungs.
Studies have shown that children often have more severe reactions to fiberglass and other insulation problems. As children are often curious, they may try and touch it. Make sure to monitor them when they’re around different types of insulation, and especially fiberglass.
How to Stay Safe
One of the best ways to ensure that you and your family members don’t come in contact with any hazardous chemicals is to by being 100% certain that walls and floors separate you from them. Work with reliable contractors when building or renovating your home to ensure that they stay far away.
If you are at home when renovations are underway, make sure to wear the proper protective equipment. One of the reasons why firefighters wear gas masks when they rush into buildings is to protect themselves against the chemicals that come from insulation.
Depending on the context, you might want to consider doing the same. Click here to learn about safe insulation removal procedure.
Understand the Different Insulation Types and Insulation Dangers
Insulation forms an essential part of modern homes, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be harmful. Make a point to learn about the insulation type that your home has, as well as any potential insulation dangers. In doing so, you’ll help ensure the health of you and your family.
Do you now have a better understanding of how to ensure that your home insulation doesn’t harm your health? If you do, take a moment to check out some of our other blog posts for more home-related guides and tips.