Used as a home insulation that could easily be injected into wall cavities and produce decent insulation, it became apparent within a decade of use that the product created noxious fumes that burned the eyes, nose, lungs and throat.
Eye, Throat, Nose and Lung Irritant
Urea-Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI) has its origins back in the 1930s. This foam insulation was easily injected under pressure into walls and other spaces with a hose providing a quick way for home owners to retrofit older homes with no insulation. The liquid mixture was applied with a hose and a mixing gun, combining the foaming agent, resin and compressed air. The foam would expand into wall cavities and fill the void with an insulation that provided a value of R-5 per inch. The mixed foam became firm within minutes and took about a week to fully cure. For years after curing some applications of UFFI were known to produce gasses into family homes which made many homeowners sick. UFFI is generally spotted in homes built before the 1970s. If you see a yellow hardened liquid in your basement, crawl space, attic, or wall cavities, you may have UFFI.
While much of remaining UFFI in homes no longer produces noxious fumes, it can still be viewed as a detriment when trying to sell your home. We are specialists in the removal of UFFI and can provide you a free quote for abatement.
Visually UFFI looks like oozing liquid that has hardened. As UFFI ages it can darken and take on more of a butterscotch colour. New UFFI can often be a light yellow color. Early forms of UFFI tended to shrink significantly and the foam dried with a dull matte color. Very old cured UFFI can even be dry and crumbly.
Around 1980, concerns began to develop about formaldehyde vapor emitted by the curing process, as well as from the breakdown of old foam. Improperly mixed UFFI could often have too much formaldehyde which would discharge into the home as a gas. Formaldehyde emission rates exceeding 3.0 - 5.0 parts per million (ppm) cause a variety of adverse health effects impacting the eyes, nose, and respiratory system.
Health Impacts Of Formaldehyde
UFFI was usually mixed at the location of use while constructing the home walls. It was then injected inside the walls, the curing process occurs, and the final product acts as an insulating agent. Because less information was known about the toxic health effects of formaldehyde in the 1970s, extra formaldehyde was often added to the mixture to ensure that the curing process would occur completely. Since this time studies have been done on people who are subjected to low levels of formaldehyde on a daily basis and there were no long term adverse affects. As UFFI ages it tends to release less formaldehyde gas.