While researching insulation for your home, you are probably finding conflicting reports on foam insulation safety.
This leaves you asking yourself if spray foam insulation is safe to have in your home. What about your kids or pets? Will they be safe after you add foam insulation to your home?
The quick answer is yes, both our injection foam and spray foam insulation are safe to have in every area of your home without worrying if it's toxic or potential health risks. We wouldn't put anything in your house that we wouldn't put in our own homes.
You have to take what you read on the Internet or hear secondhand with a grain of salt. Problems with spray foam insulation that may have been true 20 years ago aren't the case today.
RetroFoam of Michigan has more than 20 years of experience insulating thousands of homes across Michigan's lower peninsula and the greater Toledo area, so we get a lot of questions regarding foam insulation safety. We use the safest products offered on the market in your home and in our homes.
Let's look at common safety concerns and clear up the misconceptions about spray foam insulation safety.
Does Spray Foam Insulation Off-Gas?
When you talk about off-gassing, your contractor will use the term VOC or volatile organic compounds.
Basically, it's all of the little bits that are expelled while a material is being sprayed. Your hairspray, body spray, and anything you bring home from the dry cleaners has off-gassing. But let's talk more about spray foam off-gassing.
Spray foam does off-gas, and there are some health and odor concerns with off-gassing, but only when it happens in large amounts. When considering spray foam insulation for your home, and you're concerned about off-gassing, look for products labeled "low VOC."
That is the industry seal, which means that there is a minimal amount of off-gassing. This low VOC also means a lower re-occupancy time of around two hours.
The injection foam we install, commonly used for existing walls, doesn't have any off-gassing.
Is Spray Foam Insulation Flammable?
The foam insulation products we use are Class One Fire Rated.
A fire rating is given for insulation to determine how long it can withstand a fire resistance test.
The Class One Fire Rating is given to insulation materials with a smoke development of less than 450 and a flame spread index of 25 or less. This rating means the insulation is the most fire-resistant but not fireproof.
Basically, if the worst were to happen, and there was a fire in your home, the foam insulation doesn't act as a catalyst. Once the flame is removed from the foam, it will self-extinguish.
Does Foam Insulation Contain Formaldehyde?
The word formaldehyde strikes fear in most homeowners' hearts, but you have to consider all the things in your home that do have it in them.
These things include tobacco smoke, cosmetics, lotions, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, keratin hair smoothing treatments, and some fingernail polishes, according to the American Cancer Society.
Other items that have trace amounts of formaldehyde are crafters glue, caulk, drywall adhesive, some insulation boards, and some liquid detergents, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Now that we've looked at some things in your home with formaldehyde let's talk about foam insulation.
RetroFoam injection foam insulation has a trace amount of formaldehyde at 0.06 parts per million present in the dry product, but when mixed in our trucks, the formaldehyde is bonded in the material, so it can't leak out. This means the finished foam product installed in your walls is considered to be formaldehyde-free.
The spray foam products we use contain no formaldehyde at all. Since it's a spray foam product, it doesn't require the preservative properties of formaldehyde.
Experienced Contractors with Quality Equipment Make Spray Foam Insulation Dangers a Thing of the Past
Not only has foam insulation come a long way from its early years, but the machinery has improved.
These new high-tech machines are used by experienced contractors who have been in the foam insulation game for a while. That's because these rigs make it impossible to spray bad foam.
Foam insulation rigs today have a fail-safe that kicks in if anything is off-ratio, like the heat, the mixture, or the pressure, so if that happens, the rig shuts down.
You'll run into those nightmares you've read about spray foam insulation problems like strong odors when the material isn't mixed correctly in the rig. We always recommend homeowners vet their foam insulation contractors, and asking what type of rig they have and how the foam is mixed are important questions.
Is Spray Foam Insulation Safe? Yes.
Weird things happen every single day.
You hear about car crashes nearly every day, yet you still get behind the wheel and drive to work.
You hear about the dangers of foam insulation, but the reality is that spray foam insulation has made massive improvements in the industry just in the past few years. If you're asking yourself if spray foam insulation is safe, the simplest way to answer that is to tell you that spray foam is actually the new standard for construction.
Both commercial and residential projects call for foam insulation if you were to look at the specs or blueprints.
It just comes down to you making sure the contractor you hire is using a premium foam material and that they have the experience to install it properly.
If you want to learn more about spray and injection foam insulation, head to our Learning Center.
Copies of the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and Tech Sheets for the insulation products we use can be found on our website. This information can be helpful and includes what the materials are made of, toxicological information, and ecological information.
About Amanda Ringler
Amanda previously has worked as a breaking news and crime reporter, TV news producer, and editor in Flint and Detroit. Throughout her career as a journalist, she has won several awards from The Society of Professional Journalists - Detroit Chapter and the Michigan Press Association. As part of the RetroFoam of Michigan family, Amanda uses her experience as a journalist to write content that will help educate homeowners on the benefits of foam insulation. When Amanda isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and rescued huskies. She also loves knitting, making art, cooking, and hosting dinner and a movie night for friends and family.