For those who are unfamiliar with insulation, making a healthy choice for this necessary feature in our lives can become confusing.
Fiberglass is probably the most familiar type of insulation when it comes to your home, available in both a batting and shredded/blown form. Fiberglass is essentially molten sand, spun like cotton candy. People like it because it’s easy to work with, is fire resistant, and makes a great insulation. One of the reasons we aren’t keen on recommending conventional fiberglass batt or spray insulation is due to it’s urea formaldehyde content, added as a binding agent. Urea formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, and contributes to poor indoor air quality as well as causes monumental issues for individuals with Multiple Chemical sensitivities. Formaldehyde exposure can trigger watery eyes, nose irritations, wheezing and coughing, fatigue, skin rash, severe allergic reactions, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty in breathing in some humans. These effects can be compounded when your house breathes during typical temperature fluctuations. If possible, search your local area for formaldehyde-free fiberglass insulation, which can be found available in both batt and blown. We love working with Knauf EcoBatt insulation as a trusted, reputable source for toxin and formaldehyde-free fiberglass insulation. In lieu formaldehyde as it’s binder, Knauf EcoBatt insulation uses mineral oil and is safe for use by chemically sensitive individuals.
If formaldehyde-free versions are not available near you, choosing something traditional and sealing is your next best bet. Use a garden sprayer and apply AFM Safecoat Safe Seal undiluted. Apply two light fog-like coats, with about 20-30 minutes between coats. Spray the exposed (inside) face before putting up drywall. Safe Seal can be used in a myriad of applications around the home, and is particularly useful with new construction conundrums like these.
Another commonly used insulation, spray foam, is at the bottom of our list as a healthy option. While it’s a great, effective product and can get deep within crevasses traditional insulation cannot, it is compromised of 100% synthetic chemicals, typically polyurethane. Spray foam is used quite often in new construction, in all areas of the house. If your new construction home is filled with the stuff, followed the aforementioned instructions on applying Safe Seal. This will prohibit the chemical hodgepodge from outgassing into your home.
Blown in cellulose has become clever option for recycle-minded. Made of shredded or modified paper, it seems like a great way to repurpose the material into something useful. We tend to caution our chemically sensitive customers away from using this as insulation material, as it it’s content is often chemically de-inked in addition to being treated with flame retardants. We do not currently have a solution to seal or treat cellulose in order to make it usable by those with MCS.
Cotton fabric that comes from pre-consumer denim jean scraps, can also be shredded and spun into a batt-like insulation, has peaked interest across the US. Boric
acid is used to clean the fabric and provide flame resistance, but the use of dyes and subsequent de-inking chemicals makes this an expensive and somewhat suspicious product to recommend.
When considering insulation for your new or old home, our bottom line is to recommend a formaldehyde-free fiberglass. Breaking even for runner-up options include cellulose filling or Safe Seal-treated traditional fiberglass. Causing this tie- we’re not sure what might be contained in the treated-cellulose, but it’s also unlikely you’ll 100% seal all your home’s insulation with Safe Seal. It’s possible, however unlikely, to reach every cranny with a fog of this product. Remember, sealing is only as effective as it’s application, so make sure to be thorough, diligent and to manage those expectations. Regardless, Safe Seal can be incredibly effective in prohibiting the majority of in-house emissions from the insulation when applied properly.