Health

Air Quality Concerns

Many common building materials release and/or contain fairly dangerous substances. For example, particleboard emits formaldehyde. Carpeting outgases volatile organic compounds. Fiberglass insulation is listed as a potential carcinogen, containing respirable glass fibers and most likely formaldehyde. Cellulose has none of these concerns. In fact, Dr. Arthur Furst, one of the world’s foremost toxicologists, states,

In essence, the dusts from cellulose insulation materials can be considered as any household dusts. Cellulose, per se, is non-toxic. Biologically, cellulose is innocuous.

Donna Reynolds of the American Lung Association says,

Poor indoor air quality affects millions of workers’ health, decreases productivity, and increases the amount of sick leave.

Perhaps that’s why the American Lung Association of Virginia (ALA-VA) chose Cellulose Insulation to insulate their 12,000 sq. ft., Breathe Easy® office complex. Cellulose helps ALA-VA realize their primary goal of minimizing indoor air pollutants. 

Take a look at some of the health concerns and how Cellulose stacks up against traditional fiberglass.

A Comparison of Health Concerns Fiberglass Cellulose
Microscopic, Respirable Glass Fibers? Yes No
Formaldehyde? Yes No
NTP classified probable carcinogen? Yes No
Specified dust-mask rating required for install? Yes No

Mold Concerns

Mold Spores

Mold spores are everywhere. They’re found in nearly every environment—inside and outside; can be carried in through windows, doors and HVAC systems, on people’s clothing or pets; and are ready to rapidly reproduce if given appropriate conditions. In order for those mold spores to be activated and grow, three things must be present: correct temperature, nutrients/food, and moisture. Two of these components are a part of most living spaces. Most individuals like to keep their thermostat between 65F and 75F-a perfect range for comfort. Unfortunately, mold likes that temperature range, too, and can survive at temperatures between 47F – 120F. Furthermore, our buildings are built and furnished with the organic materials that mold devours for food; carpet, drywall, ceiling tiles, wall paper—even dust—are all materials mold uses for nutrients.

Moisture, however, can and should be a controllable element. Therefore, mold problems are actually moisture problems. In the EPA’s guide to Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, the first question they ask someone to consider when assessing a mold occurrence is: “Are there existing moisture problems in the building?”

In a paper entitled “Mold: Causes, Health Effects and Clean-Up”, Joe Lstiburek, a well-know building scientist, emphasizes the correlation between moisture and mold,

Mold requires water. No water, no mold. Mold is the result of a water problem. Fix the water problem. Clean up the mold. And you have fixed the mold problem. To avoid mold problems, avoid water problems.

The good news is that Cellulose Insulation has been tested and found to be fungi resistant under federal standards. Additionally, Cellulose does not cause moisture problems. In fact, it helps prevent them. Cellulose’s density and custom fit aid in controlling air infiltration and exfiltration. Other insulations may permit moisture to piggy-back its way into the walls on humid air; once inside the structure it may condense and gather on cooler surfaces, jumpstarting the mold to life.

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