Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Toxins in Home Insulation

 By Guest Writer: Krista Peterson

With the number of people adapting holistic lifestyles increasing every day, much of the attention to detail is focused on everyday household items, such as alternatives to cleaners and healthier, organic food products. While taking these steps are a huge part of living green, your house’s insulation and building materials may be effecting the indoor air quality. If you’re living in a home built prior to the 1980’s, it would be wise to have the insulation checked for asbestos.

Asbestos was a common material used throughout the 1900’s in all sorts of construction, insulation, lining, and building products. It was being used from shipyards to factories, and even into home insulation. When many of these workers in asbestos containing structures began to get diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer, asbestos began to essentially be banned in most areas. With the risk of potential lawsuits due to the fact that mesothelioma life expectancy is so low after diagnosis, companies and builders were no longer taking chances with this type of construction material. While asbestos isn’t used in any modern structures, some older homes and buildings may still contain the fiber within their insulation today. If needed at all, the removal process is not a do-it-yourself project and should definitely involve a trained professional to cut out the risk of exposure. 

There are a number of alternatives in insulation products that if used, will not only cut down on the risk of toxins in the home, but also improve the house’s overall environmental sustainability. There are some great organic alternatives in insulation, while some of the more popular options include cotton fiber, cellulose, fiberglass, and spray polyurethane foam or SPF. Cotton fiber uses batted material, sometimes even shards of denim that have been treated to make them fire and heat retardant. Cellulose is another great option, as it’s constructed from finely shredded paper or newsprint and made out of 85 percent of recycled content. Spray polyurethane foam is extremely easy to install and may end up being the best insulation alternative as far as efficiency is concerned. It’s said to fill cracks and spaces tighter than any other option, thus conserving as much energy as possible. Although, fiberglass has been used for a number of years as an insulation material, distributors are making strides to make it one of the most eco-friendly options around. Not only are today’s fiberglass options made from recycled materials, they have extremely higher air quality than most types of insulation.

While most people may not be at risk of toxins from their own home insulation, some residents in older homes built before the 1980’s may be exposed to some health risks. Using some of these organic insulation products will provide residents with the most safety from toxins and a higher indoor air quality than any other alternative type of insulation. Even with the newest modern homes, green insulation products and other organic building materials offer the chance to increase energy efficiency, while still being cost effective.

About the Author
Krista Peterson is a recent graduate from the University of Central Florida and aspiring writer. As a Health and Safety Advocate, she shares a strong passion for the wellness of our community and environment. Krista uses her writings to spread awareness of such issues to help encourage others to live the healthiest and most eco-friendly lifestyle possible. She can be contacted by email at

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