Breathe easy: fiberglass insulation manufacturers ease buyer worries about indoor air quality through testing and third-party certification

Breathe easy: fiberglass insulation manufacturers ease buyer worries about indoor air quality through testing and third-party certification – Product Info

Stephani L. Miller

When it comes to selecting a brand of insulation, energy savings and sound transmission are no longer the only concerns. Builders and homebuyers also are looking for assurance that fiberglass insulation does not contribute to poor indoor air quality (IAQ). Fiberglass batt manufacturers maintain that the levels of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs)–particularly formaldehyde–in their products do not contribute to IAQ problems, and some are proving this through third-party testing.

The use of formaldehyde in fiberglass insulation has caused concern with the general public because of the chemical’s suspected carcinogenic effects; however, the EPA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission do not consider fiberglass insulation to be a significant contributor to indoor formaldehyde levels. “Actual formaldehyde emissions from fiberglass insulation are vanishingly minute, diminish to virtually undetectable levels once the product is installed, and have never posed a general public health concern,” says Mike Lynam, marketing manager for Knauf Fiberglass.

“It’s pretty clear in the industry that fiberglass insulation is not a contributor to indoor air quality issues,” says Gale Tedhams, product manager for Owens Corning residential insulation products.

Nevertheless, there is still some concern among homeowners that VOCs in building materials might exacerbate allergies. Manufacturers Knauf (circle 101), CertainTeed (circle 1029, Owens Corning (circle 103), and Guardian Fiberglass (circle 104) have had their products tested and certified by the Greenguard Environmental Institute for IAQ performance to provide a measurable assurance that their fiberglass products do not contribute to poor IAQ and emit low levels of all VOCs.

An independent third-party organization, the Greenguard Environmental institute provides a guide to low-chemical and -particle emitting building materials. The organization’s testing process evaluates the end products and the raw materials and manufacturing processes that go into them.” Greenguard Certified products … are evaluated on a quarterly basis to ensure that they are still low-emitting products,” says Henning Bloech, director of communications for Greenguard.

Knauf, Owens Coming, and CertainTeed fiberglass insulation have already earned Greenguard Certification, and Guardian (maker of privately labeled fiberglass insulation for companies like Georgia-Pacific and Ace Hardware) is still in the testing process.

Manufacturer Johns Manville (circle 105) has gone another route by switching to an acrylic resin binder, eliminating formaldehyde from its manufacturing processes and end products altogether. The company has chosen not to apply for Greenguard Certification, but its fiberglass batt manufacturing facilities that have eliminated formaldehyde from the manufacturing process have been exempted from the EPA’s Clean Air Act restricting formaldehyde, phenol, and methanol emissions.

Manufacturers whose products have earned Greenguard Certification have not raised prices on those products.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Hanley-Wood, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group