Products > Insulation

Added on Dec 14, 2016 by Melissa Coffin

Insulation Hazard Spectrum  Hazard Spectrum

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Added on Sep 10, 2018 in General

Just Released: These Healthier Insulations and Sealants Also Improve Energy Efficiency  News

Addressing concerns that some insulation products release unhealthy chemicals, HBN is proud to have conducted the extensive materials research detailed in a new guide to healthier insulation and air sealing materials.

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Added on Sep 20, 2017 in General

Q&A from “When is it "green"? Preventing the Toxic Effects of Spray Foam Insulation”  News

Thanks to all who attended our webinar “When is it "green"? Preventing the Toxic Effects of Spray Foam Insulation”!

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Added on Feb 13, 2017 in General

Does Healthy SPF Exist?  News

Spray Foam products marketed as being healthier may be formulated without some of the hazardous chemicals traditionally found in SPF products, but don’t replace the really bad actor chemicals. SPF insulation - even those with improved formulations - remain at the bottom of our Stoplight chart, in dark red. (Updated, April 4, 2017.)

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Added on Dec 14, 2016 in General

Reevaluating Insulation Materials To Create Healthier Spaces  News

“Without a clear focus on the safety and health of the materials used to make affordable housing more energy efficient, we will be trading lower energy costs for greater health impacts and ignoring the potential manufacturing job growth from the production of safer materials.” - Kimberly Glas, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance

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Added on Jul 14, 2016 in General

HBCD-free Styrofoam™ Insulation Coming to USA -- by Jim Vallette  News

Good news in the insulation world. By 2018, extruded polystyrene (XPS) insulation will be available in North America without the extremely toxic flame retardant, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD).

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Added on Nov 18, 2015 in General

New Research Shows Formaldehyde No Longer Used in Residential Fiberglass Insulation -- by Jim Vallette  News

New research shows the light density residential fiberglass insulation industry in the U.S. and Canada has finally eliminated the use of formaldehyde-based binders in its manufacturing. Formaldehyde is a human toxicant with a long history of use in residential insulation, but it—like 62,000 other chemicals— was grandfathered in and is unregulated by the federal government under the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.

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Added on Dec 14, 2016 by Melissa Coffin

Common Product: Kraft-faced Fiber Glass Batt Insulation

Fiber glass batt insulation is a thermal insulating product with high thermal performance, moisture resistance, fire resistance, and is sound absorbent. Fiber glass insulation is fabricated using a molten glass batch consisting of raw materials (sand, borates, soda ash, lime) and recycled glass cullet. The molten glass is spun into fibers and an atomized binder is applied as the fibers settle onto a conveyer to form batts which are then conveyed through an oven to cure the binder. Originally phenol-based formaldehyde binders were used, but concerns about indoor air quality led to the development and use of formaldehyde-free binders by all four fiber glass insulation manufacturers (Johns Manville first, then CertainTeed, Knauf Insulation, and Owens Corning). The entire industry switched to formaldehyde-free binders by 2015 for lightweight fiberglass products. Fiber glass batts can be either unfaced or faced with a Kraft paper, foil, or polyethylene film vapor retarder. Kraft paper facing is the cheapest option that meets residential codes in California and is the vapor retarder considered in this survey. Fiber glass batt insulation is installed by placing the batts into the wall cavity and stapling the facing to the framing members. Faced insulation should not be left exposed, but covered with gypsum board.

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Added on Dec 14, 2016 by Melissa Coffin

Common Product: Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation (SPF) is a site applied foam insulation for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. SPF is a two-part polyurethane based foam and can be used in place of other insulating materials like batt insulation (fiberglass, mineral fiber) and loose fill insulation. SPF can be either open or closed cell and both can be used to create a continuous air barrier. Despite its higher cost, closed cell insulation has gained larger market share due to its higher R value and vapor barrier characteristics. Closed cell SPF can be used in various applications including interior or exterior walls, attics, foundations, HVAC ducts, etc. Since these products are reacted and applied on site, special care must be taken to avoid occupational exposure to the isocyanates, amines, blowing agents, etc. that volatilize during the application process. Special training is required for applicators of SPF, and there is a delay period before unprotected individuals can re-enter the application area. Offgassing from the SPF can occur for extended periods after installation. There is continued debate on the definition of full cure for SPF insulation and the amount of time needed for harmful levels of emissions to recede is highly contested.

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Added on Dec 14, 2016 by Melissa Coffin

Common Product: XPS Insulation (Extruded Polystyrene)

ASTM C578 defines extruded polystyrene (XPS) thermal insulation as a, "cellular plastic product manufactured in a one stage process by extrusion and expansion of the base polymer in the presence of blowing agent(s) resulting in a product which is rigid with closed cellular structure." XPS foams fall into ASTM C578 Types IV, V, VI, VII, X, XII, and XIII. Rigid XPS foam boards contain flame retardants in quantities sufficient to meet standards outlined in the ASTM standard. This CP describes unfaced, rigid XPS foam insulation boards suitable for a range of insulating applications with a minimum compression strength of 40 psi.

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Added on Dec 14, 2016 by Melissa Coffin

Common Product Profile: EPS Insulation (Expanded Polystyrene)

ASTM C578 defines expanded polystyrene (EPS) thermal insulation as a, "cellular plastic product manufactured from pre-expanded polystyrene beads subsequently molded into desired shapes and sizes resulting in a product which is rigid with closed cellular structure." EPS foams fall into ASTM C578 Types I, II, VII, IX, XI, XIV, and XV. Rigid EPS foam boards contain flame retardants in quantities sufficient to meet standards outlined in the ASTM standard. This CP describes unfaced, rigid EPS foam insulation boards suitable for a range of insulating applications.

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Added on Dec 14, 2016 by Melissa Coffin

Common Product: Fiberglass Board Insulation

Fiberglass board insulation liner is used to insulate the insides of metal heating and cooling ductwork or plenums. In addition to providing thermal insulation in areas where the carried air is cooler or warmer than the ambient air surrounding the ductwork, fiberglass board insulation liner also provides acoustical insulation, damping the noise of the HVAC system as well as cutting down on cross-talk. Fiberglass board insulation is made up of a fiber base held together by a binder. This substrate is then covered with a mat of densely-packed continuous filiament glass fibers and an acrylic coating; together this is known as "air stream surfacing". This air stream surfacing protects the surface of the fiberglass board exposed to airflow in the duct, protecting it from damage and moisture. Fiberglass board insulation is affixed to the metal ductwork or plenum using both an adhesive and mechanical fasteners which are outside of the scope of this CP.

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Added on Dec 14, 2016 by Melissa Coffin

Common Product: Polyisocyanurate Wall Insulation Board

Polyisocyanurate (polyiso) foam insulation is a closed cell, rigid insulation board. These products consist of a foam core between two facers. The foam itself comes from the reaction of MDI/PMDI with polyols. Additional additives include catalysts, surfactants, flame retardants, and blowing agents. The facers are applied as the foam is reacting, and a separate adhesive does not appear to be needed. The flame retardant in the foam is typically a chlorinated flame retardant, TCPP. One roofing board is currently available with no halogenated flame retardants and instead uses an organo-phosphorus flame retardant that is reactive, so becomes part of the polymer chain. The facer materials vary depending on the manufacturer and the application. Polyiso for roof applications is typically faced with a glass reinforced fiber material. This CP focuses on boards for wall applications, which typically have an aluminum foil laminated kraft facer that has recycled content. These boards can be used as an exterior sheathing or for a variety of interior exposed applications including interior walls, below-grade basement walls, closed crawl spaces, and ceilings. Some manufacturers offer a specialty product with additional coatings to provide a more finished appearance for interior applications, but this type of finish is excluded from the CP.

This information reflects our best understanding of product composition in 2016.

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Added on Dec 14, 2016 by Melissa Coffin

Common Product: Mineral Fiber Batt Insulation

Mineral fibers are made from a molten mixture of rock and blast furnace slag from the steel industry. The fibers are sprayed with a urea phenol-formaldehyde binder and formed into mats or boards, before being put through an oven to cure. Most typically, these batts are unfaced.

Urea phenol-formaldehyde, like other formaldehyde-based resins, can release formaldehyde into living spaces over time. Starting in mid-2017, some mineral fiber batt insulation will be available without formaldehyde-based resins. Prefer these products when possible or substitute insulation materials higher in this chart. If you must use mineral fiber insulation with a formaldehyde-based binder, prefer those that meet California Emission Specification 01350 requirements for Residential Scenarios.

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Added on Dec 14, 2016 by Melissa Coffin

Common Product: Blown-in Cellulose Insulation

Blown-in cellulose insulation is used in residential and some commercial buildings, as part of new construction or as part of retrofit projects. Cellulose insulation is a mixture of newsprint (the vast majority from post-consumer sources), flame retardants, and oils which help to control dust. The cellulose insulation is blown into wall and floor cavities until the manufacturer-recommended density or thickness is achieved. "Dense-pack" cellulose, typically used in wall applications to prevent settling, is a more dense packing of the same product. The composition of newspaper for this assessment is assumed to be that of a standard black ink used in offset lithographic printing, on a 100% recycled newsprint substrate. Newsprint printed with colored inks would have a variety of additional hazards, depending on the pigments used; these hazards are not captured here.

This information reflects our best understanding of product composition in 2016.

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Added on Dec 14, 2016 by Melissa Coffin

Common Product: Unfaced Cellulose/Cotton Batt Insulation

Cellulose-based insulation products can use a variety of cellulose fibers. This CP covers the cellulose-based batt insulation products on the market at the time of this research which include two recycled denim batt insulations and one primarily recycled newspaper batt insulation. The products are similar in terms of make-up, differing primarily in the source and type of cellulose (cotton versus paper). These insulations contain a high quantity of recycled content which can be post-industrial or post-consumer cotton and denim fibers and/or post-consumer recycled newspaper. Recycled content ranges from a minimum of 70-85%. The cellulose fibers are bound using binder fibers, which are distributed through the cellulose fiber have a low enough melting point to melt and a bond to each other, holding the form of the batt. Flame retardants are needed in order to meet fire code requirements. These are typically boric acid and ammonium sulfate, but one manufacturer uses an alternative of ammonium phosphate salt. Hazardous residuals from the denim production process are possible in the recycled cotton, but could not be verified or quantified in the insulation based on the information available. This information reflects our best understanding of product composition in 2016.

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Added on Dec 14, 2016 by Melissa Coffin

Common Product: Unfaced Fiber Glass Batt Insulation

Fiber glass batt insulation is a thermal insulating product with high thermal performance, moisture resistance, fire resistance, and is sound absorbent. Fiber glass insulation is fabricated using a molten glass batch consisting of raw materials (sand, borates, soda ash, lime) and recycled glass cullet. The molten glass is spun into fibers and an atomized binder is applied as the fibers settle onto a conveyer to form batts which are then conveyed through an oven to cure the binder. Originally phenol-based formaldehyde binders were used, but concerns about indoor air quality led to the development and use of formaldehyde-free binders by all four fiber glass insulation manufacturers (Johns Manville first, then CertainTeed, Knauf Insulation, and Owens Corning). The entire industry switched to formaldehyde-free binders by 2015 for lightweight fiberglass products. Fiber glass batts can be either unfaced or faced with a Kraft paper, foil, or polyethylene film vapor retarder. This product describes unfaced fiber glass batt insulation (distinct from faced fiber glass batt). Unfaced fiber glass batt insulation is installed by placing the batts into the wall cavity, allowing friction to hold the insulation in place. Frequently the insulation is then covered with a separate vapor retarder (e.g. polyethylene film), which is placed over and stapled to the studs before installing gypsum board. Moisture-resistant gypsum board is generally used without a separate vapor retarder for unfaced fiber glass batt in places such as bathrooms to allow moisture to escape. This product excludes any vapor retarders that may be used with unfaced fiber glass batt.

This information reflects our best understanding of product composition in 2016.

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Added on Dec 14, 2016 by Melissa Coffin

Common Product: Unbonded Blown-in Fiber Glass Insulation

Blown-in fiber glass insulation can be either bonded or unbonded. Bonded types are made from cut or pulverized blanket or batt insulation and so contain a binder. This type of insulation is outside the scope of this CP. Unbonded insulation does not contain a binder and consists primarily of glass fibers with a lubricant to protect the fibers from damage, a dedusting agent and an anti-static agent to keep dust and static levels down during processing and installation. This type of insulation is most often used in open attic spaces or in retrofit applications within enclosed walls. It can also be installed in open wall cavities with the use of netting to hold it in place. The insulation is installed by using a blowing machine. In wall applications, the insulation is dense-packed to decrease the potential for settling. These products often have GreenGuard Gold certification and a wide range of recycled content between products - both pre and post-consumer. Post-consumer recycled content ranges from 8-62%.

This information reflects our best understanding of product composition in 2016.

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Added on Dec 14, 2016 by Melissa Coffin

Common Product: Expanded Cork Board Insulation

Cork insulation boards are made by exposing cork granules to super-heated steam in a block-shaped press mold. The super-heated steam causes the cork pieces to swell and expand, but because their movement in the press mold is limited, the granules are forced together under pressure. Suberin, a waxy resin naturally present in cork, is activated by the steam and pressure, and acts as a binder between the now expanded granules. After the molded blocks are cooled, they are cut into slabs of varying thicknesses. No flame retardant or antimicrobial additives are necessary.

This CP describes Expanded Cork Board Insulation to the best of our knowledge and data available in 2016.

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