Beware of toxic insulation batts

Here in Australia we had a government program in place that provided heavily subsidized insulation and installation to households throughout the country.

The concept was great, with hundreds of thousands of households meant to benefit. Unfortunately as always in these types of schemes, some seek to rort the system. A rogue element in the insulation industry has been proving substandard products and poor installation.

It has gotten so bad the government has suspended the program after the deaths of installers, a number of house fires, roof areas becoming electrified and other issues relating to the improper selection and installation of insulation.

One of the other problems to emerge has been toxic insulation batts. It seems some imported fibreglass products have high levels of formaldehyde and other dangerous substances. Formaldehyde is one of the most common indoor pollutants and is a volatile organic compound (VOC), meaning that it becomes a gas at normal room temperatures. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and is particularly toxic in aquatic environments.

It’s really sad and disgusting to see this happening in a program designed to help the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with heating and cooling homes. Thousands of home owners are now worried their insulation may be a fire risk or off-gassing poisonous substances.

Australia’s harsh lesson can help others though by raising awareness that such inferior quality products exist and it’s important for consumers to carefully research the type and brand of insulation they intend to use in their homes – and who will be installing it.

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