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. By: Alan Carson Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd. and John Caverly, Building Inspection Consultants & Associates. Information Bulletin – How To Determine Whether You Have UFFI In Your Home. Formaldehyde is both a naturally occurring chemical, and an industrial chemical. Within several days of the application, formaldehyde levels typically return to ambient house levels. A process and apparatus are provided for making desired shapes of urea-formaldehyde suitable for use as insulation from urea-formaldehyde foam. Very detail-oriented. 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. Comparison of Health of Occupants and Characteristics of Houses Among Controlled Homes and Homes Hamilton, Ontario, Warning On Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation 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. 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. Your email address will not be published. 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. Eventually, the possible health risks due to formaldehyde emissions lead to its ban in most countries by 1980. Similarly, we would ask mortgage lenders not to penalize those who have UFFI in their homes. It became popular in North America following the energy crisis of … Urea-formaldehyde foam cavity insulation are described by characteristics such as thermal conductivity (maximum). A. Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was developed in the 1950s in Europe to insulate hard-to-reach wall cavities. The National Research Council of Canada (1981),  Building Practice Note #19 – Urea Formaldehyde 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. urea-formaldehyde foam insulation What is UFFI UREA-FORMALDEHYDE FOAM INSULATION? We believe that those who have urea formaldehyde foam insulation in their homes should enjoy their houses, and sleep well at night. UFFI is still used in Europe, where it was never banned and is considered one of the better “retrofit” insulations. 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. 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. UFFI is a foam, like shaving cream, that is easily injected or pumped into walls. UFFI Insulation - What Was the Urea Formaldehyde Insulation Worry. In the past, urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was installed in wall cavities of houses for the purpose of energy conservation. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C. (1990), Builder’s Note #3 – Formaldehyde The highest levels were found in homes with brand new carpeting which were tested on a hot summer day. Great to have a woman doing the job.”, — Susan Krever, Chestnut Park Real Estate. WHAT IF YOU HAVE DAMP PROBLEMS IN YOUR HOUSE? The insulation was banned in December 1980, in Canada. Insulated With Urea Formaldehyde Foam 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. McMaster University Health Science Center UFFI was not a do-it-yourself product. Houses with new carpeting can also reach these levels. 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 The Institute For Research In Construction Mild to incapacitating symptoms have been reported in occupants of urea formaldehyde-insulated homes. Information Bulletin – Formaldehyde Judge The foam is then injected into the cavity through 19mm holes, in a wet foam state 90-95% pre expanded. In fact, in reviewing several thousand files, not one house was found with levels of formaldehyde which remained above 0.1 ppm! Even in the few houses that tested at levels approaching 0.1 ppm, these results were rarely duplicated in subsequent testing. Ambient formaldehyde levels in houses are typically .03 to .04 parts per million. 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. 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 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 insulation (UFFI) was developed in Europe in the 1950s as an improved means of insulating difficult-to-reach cavities in house walls. (In other mobile home studies, any elevated levels of formaldehyde were traced to the panelling or carpets, not UFFI.) The Globe & Mail Newspaper, Toronto (December 14, 1991), Dropping The UFFI Clause: What Are Members Bound To Do? The National Research Council of Canada (August 1981), Exposure To High Concentration Of Formaldehyde. The threshold level became very conservative, indeed. This allows formaldehyde gas to be released into the air of a UFFI-insulated building. Studies using random samples of UFFI and non-UFFI homes done before the ban showed no impact of UFFI on health. (UFFI) was developed in Europe in the 1950s as an improved means of insulating difficult-to-reach cavities in house walls. Toxicity from this insulation is related to release of free formaldehyde into the home. 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. Information Bulletin – Information Update 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. An example use may be within a cavity wall insulation system. A laboratory study which produced nasal cancers in rats that were exposed to high levels of formaldehyde, increased the concern. The fears of cancer and other health problems were only the beginning of the story. Information Bulletin – Corrective Measures – Ceiling The extent of use in commercial buildings is unknown. A. Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas, and is a very common industrial and commercial chemical. Many products use formaldehyde during the manufacturing process. Urea formaldehyde foam insulation is injected as a mixture of urea formaldehyde resin, an acidic foaming agent, and a propellant, such as air. 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. Diazolidinyl Urea is a … UFFI is not widely used in the USA today. UFFI or Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation was an insulation retrofit product used in the 1970's. Problem Identification & Remedial Measures for Wood Frame Construction It is a common ingredient in many household furnishings and consumer products. The insulation was approved in Canada for use in exterior wood-frame walls only. Development Of A Canadian Standard For Urea Formaldehyde Thermal Wall Insulation The Canadian Home Builder’s Association, Millions To Remove Urea Foam, But Health Risk Still Unknown UFFI was a type of insulation that was widely used around the World, including Canada, USA, and Europe. How common is UFFI? 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. Urea formaldehyde (UF) foam was a common choice: it is much less popular now. 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 insulation was manufactured in the fifties but became popular in the seventies as energy prices began to rise. Great inspector. A Case Study 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. Fluid urea-formaldehyde foam (A) is formed into discrete particles (A') in particle generator (10) which also partially cures particles (A'). Energy Mines Resources Canada, An Update On Formaldehyde  mold and fungi, dust mites, and un-named “UFFI gases” were all investigated as possibilities. 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. 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. Urea-formaldehyde insulation is not the only source of formaldehyde in the home. 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. 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. There was no damage to house framing or materials caused by UFFI. Pure UF resins are widely used where moisture resistance is not required. 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. The rate at which formaldehyde gasses are released from materials into the air depends on temperature and humidity. 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. It is typically made at a construction site from a mixture of urea-formaldehyde resin, a foaming agent and compressed air. The National Research Council of Canada (1985), Mr. Bob Platts – Scanada Consultants Limited – Ottawa, Ontario, Dr. Geoffrey Norman – Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics Although there were no substantiated problems clearly attributable to the foam, urea formaldehyde foam insulation was banned as a precautionary measure. 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 (UFFI) is a home insulation made of urea formaldehyde resin and a foaming agent, blown or pumped into the walls and ceiling. A number of studies have been done examining the health effects of UFFI. UFFI is one of the most thoroughly investigated, and most innocuous building products we have used. Division of Building Research Research was initiated to evaluate the problem, and to determine what should be done. Urea formaldehyde foam is a relatively inexpensive, easily installed, and efficient insulation. These subjects were found to have a less than average number of respiratory diseases, and actually lived slightly longer on average, on the whole. 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. Information Booklet – UFFI Information Bulletin – Heat Recovery Ventilators, Home Owners With Urea – Foam Insulation Lose Civil Suit For Damages  Booklet About UFFI This is mainly due to an increase in the usage of pressed wood produc… I have been told that the cavity wall insulators will sort this … 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. Suffice to say that people with the best intentions were working in the public interest, and perhaps erred on the conservative side. By comparison, typical levels in the smoking section of a cafeteria are 0.16 ppm. It is made by using a pump set and hose with a mixing gun to mix the foaming agent, resin, and compressed air. 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 Law Reference File #9 – Quebec Real Estate Association, House Buyers Find UFFI, But Only Get $100 Damages From B.C. Few issues have stronger impact than a potential health concern, especially if the suspected cause is new, poorly understood and widely used. It became known that the levels of formaldehyde decrease rapidly after the foam has been installed. When no correlation could be found between formaldehyde gas and health problems, other possible problems related to UFFI were investigated. Lawyer’s Weekly (July 7, 1989). 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. The presence of UFFI does not affect the amount of formaldehyde in the indoor air. Questions & answers about UFFI hazards, identification in buildings & Hazards. Toxicity from this insulation is related to release of free formaldehyde into the home. Formaldehyde is colorless, but has a very strong odor, which can generally be detected at concentrations above one part per million. Information Bulletin – Interim Corrective Measures Checklist Toxicity from this insulation is related to release of free formaldehyde into the home. Overview. The National Research Council of Canada (April 1981), Building Practice Note #23 – Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation It is the sincere hope of the authors that the market place will respond appropriately. Urea formaldehyde foam insulation is injected as a mixture of urea formaldehyde resin, an acidic foaming agent, and a propellant, such as air. It is this by-product of the curing of the foam that became a controversial issue. Formaldehyde in the insulation, even if properly installed, reacts with heat and humidity in the air. Information Bulletin – Technical Research 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. The conclusion to be drawn from all this is that urea formaldehyde foam insulation has not been shown to be a health concern. Products made of urea formaldehyde can release formaldehyde gas; products made of phenol formaldehyde generally emit lower levels of the gas. 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. One of the first problem cases involving formaldehyde was in the United States. It has a reasonably good R value (thermal resistance). UFFI is simply not the problem it was once feared to be. Urea formaldehyde foam is a relatively inexpensive, easily installed, and efficient insulation. Information Bulletin – Purchase Of A Home Insulated With UFFI They provide a very cost effective solution for general applications with short cure times and low cure temperatures. 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. 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. Very quickly, fear and suspicion led to the conclusion that a problem must exist. 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 costly “remedial” measures and the long term stigma attached to UFFI houses became a marketplace reality because of the perceived health problems. Laboratory Test: Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI/UFI) LCS Laboratory Inc., offers laboratory tests for the detection of formaldehyde in foam insulation . It is typically made at a construction site from a mixture of urea-formaldehyde resin, a foaming agent and compressed air. Urea-formaldehyde foam was initially used decades ago when Cavity Wall Insulation was first introduced. 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. 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. Formaldehyde consistently ranks among the top 50 manufacturing chemicals by volume. Division of Building Research The Globe & Mail Newspaper (March 29, 1986), Consumer and Corporate Affairs Canada (UFFI Center) 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. 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.). This started to raise government suspicions about the insulation. Urea-formaldehyde foam was initially used decades ago when Cavity Wall Insulation was first introduced. 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. It is estimated that over 100,000 homes in Canada were insulated with UFFI (commonly pronounced “you-fee”). Urea Formaldehyde foam is made on site to the pre-defined British Standards 'recipe'. There are two types of formaldehyde resins: urea formaldehyde (UF) and phenol formaldehyde (PF). Urea-formaldehyde insulation is a foam sprayed between wall cavities. It is foam with the consistency of shaving cream. With rising energy costs, the practice of insulating cavity walls became widespread in the late-1970s and 80s. 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. 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. It is not the purpose of this paper to determine why or how all of this controversy arose without any proof. 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). I have in my cavity Urea Formaldehyde insulation, which was put in 23years ago. Thorough and puts things into proper perspective. 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. Join the tens of thousands of satisfied clients who got peace of mind with a Carson Dunlop home inspection. Required fields are marked *. The federal government set guidelines for reducing formaldehyde levels in houses, and removal techniques were specified. None were linked to UFFI. UFFI or Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation was an insulation retrofit product used in the 1970's. The higher the humidity levels and the higher the temperature, the more gas is likely to be released. 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. It occurs naturally in forests and is a necessary metabolite in our body cells. The initial threshold level set for formaldehyde gas was 1.0 part per million (ppm). 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. 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). 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. 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. These fears caused a reduction in the value of real estate. While very popular in Canada in the late 1970s, it was banned there in 1980. The foam was machine mixed on-site, and injected into wall cavities where it expanded to fill the cavity. Liquid foam was sprayed into an area to be insulated where it expanded to completely fill the space and hardened. Urea-formaldehyde foam (UFF) insulation. 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. “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. The same house tested two weeks later showed levels typical of any house, with or without UFFI. No one knew exactly how many homes had UFFI, and it was often difficult to find out whether a home had UFFI. 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. 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