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Cellulose Insulation Health Risks: All You Need To Know

 

cellulose insulation health risks

When it comes to installing insulation in your home, it is better to conduct proper preliminary research, and not rush in. Cellulose insulation is often viewed as the common standard for insulating a home. The problem is there are many cellulose insulation health risks you need to consider.

A toxicity study has evaluated the problems that might occur with cellulose. It is definitely worth a read.

All of the cellulose insulation health risks derive from the composition of the material. Cellulose is comprised of loose-fill shredded paper. This paper is usually treated with chemicals to prevent rodents, mould, and fire. However, while most installers claim they use non-toxic chemicals, sometimes that is not the case.

Imagine the following scenario. You call an installer, and you get cellulose insulation installed. After the installers leave your home, you notice a strong smell in the house. And the smell doesn’t go away. In fact, it becomes stronger, and the smell continues.

This is a smell that is more than likely to be emanating throughout your home because of the toxicity of the cellulose.

Cellulose Insulation Health Risks: The Test

Before trying cellulose insulation in your home, you can always do a test. You can check whether the smell of the cellulose bothers you.

Ask for a sample in a baggie from your potential installer. Take a whiff. The material should be odourless. You might notice a smell like a newspaper, because that is what cellulose basically is.

Keep the sample in your home for a day or two. If the smell bothers you, and it does not go away, you should avoid cellulose insulation. Remember, not all cellulose is done the same way. Some are treated with chemicals, and others might be treated only with borate.

cellulose insulation health risks

Cellulose insulation is fire resistant, and in order to be one, it has to go through a process. During the treatment process, cellulose is treated with chemicals like boric acid and borax, ammonium sulphate, aluminium sulphate zinc chloride, and many more. The end product contains 20% of these chemicals

Cellulose Insulation Health Risks: The Lowdown

Unlike other insulation materials, cellulose never has a definite list of components. Because of the complex mixture of chemicals, it is almost impossible to determine an accurate list of the components.

The primary ingredient is always ground newspapers and boric acid and borax. And while newspapers consist mainly of cellulose derived from trees, they might also contain potentially toxic chemicals.

During the processing of wood into cellulose, sodium hydroxide, sodium sulphide, and chlorine are added to the mixture. Some by-products of the process of breaking down wood include: formaldehyde, chlorine, lead, iron compounds, sulphur compounds, methane, cadmium, and more.

Now, the end product, and the goal is to get a pure product called cellulose. However, the pulp mill is contaminated with many of the chemicals added to the process as part of the chemical reaction.

When cellulose is made into sheets of paper, it usually contains dyes, solvents, and synthetic resins. Paper is far from pure cellulose. That is why some people are sensitive and bothered by it.

Another potential reason for the problem is the ink used for the newspaper. Printing inks go through a complex production process using petroleum oil, vegetable oil, and synthetic resins. The paper used for newspapers, the source of cellulose insulation is low grade, inexpensive paper.

And it does not stop there. Cellulose can also be produced with magazines and recycled papers, which contain inks used years ago. These inks are even more toxic.

Cellulose insulation is fire resistant, and in order to be one, it has to go through a process. During the treatment process, cellulose is treated with chemicals like boric acid and borax, ammonium sulphate, aluminium sulphate zinc chloride, and many more. The end product contains 20% of these chemicals.

Now, in some cases, there might not be health issues at all. But there are always cellulose insulation health risks you need to consider.

cellulose insulation health risks

 

Cellulose insulation, when exposed to air leaks and moisture, can become a breeding ground for moisture and mould

Cellulose Health Risks Explained

To help you assess this material, here is a quick breakdown of the health risks that might occur due to cellulose insulation:

  • Breathing shredded paper dust shed from cellulose insulation can cause respiratory problems in the long run. Cellulose can emit gases from fire retardants, insecticides, solvents, and inks used in the manufacturing process
  • Cellulose insulation made of formaldehyde and small fibres are hazardous from environmental point of view
  • Individuals with preexisting skin disorders and asthma are allergic to cellulose, because of its itch inducing particles. The particles can be irritating to the eyes, skin, and lungs
  • Cellulose insulation, when exposed to air leaks and moisture, becomes a breeding ground for mould
  • Boric acid and borates are two ingredients used in cellulose insulation, and both are highly poisonous chemical additives

Spray Foam: The Safer Alternative To Cellulose

With all the cellulose insulation health risks, the question is whether there is a better alternative available. Well, as mentioned at the beginning, you do not have to rush in.

Thorough research regarding insulation products will enable you to ascertain that spray foam is one of the best, if not the best material nowadays, in terms of helping your health, your home, and your wallet.

Unlike cellulose, spray foam is made from 100% safe and secure ingredients. There are no health risks associated with spray foam. And there will never be unpleasant smell or odour after you’ve installed spray foam insulation.

Some of the advantages of spray foam over cellulose include the following:

Spray Foam Advantage No.1: Provides A Superior Seal

Spray foam provides an air-tight seal, due to its impressively expansive nature. Cellulose always leaves some holes and air leaks behind.

Spray foam expands 100 times its original size, filling all cracks and protrusions-regardless of shape or size.

cellulose insulation health risks

Seeking to create a comfier cosier home, without running into potential health risks? Spray foam enables you to achieve exactly that!

Spray Foam Advantage No.2: Offers Substantial Savings On Bills

Spray foam has a much better R-value than cellulose. As a more powerful insulation, spray foam offers better energy savings.

In fact, on average, homeowners recoup their initial outlay within just 3-5 years, with year on year savings to follow.

Spray Foam Advantage No.3: Stands The Test Of Time

In terms of longevity, spray foam will never settle or sag. Cellulose, on the other hand, loses its efficiency over time.

Spray foam comes with 20+ years of guarantee, and when installed by a licensed contractor, will perform for the life of the building.

Seeking to create a comfier cosier home, without running into potential health risks? Spray foam enables you to achieve exactly that. Take the first step to a healthier, home environment today, by calling 0800 1700 636, or simply clicking the button below!