The Health Risks of Cellulose Insulation

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Cellulose is synthesized chiefly from post-consumer recycled newspapers (it comprises at least 80 percent its total volume). The additional components it may include are binders, fire-retardants, ammonium sulfate, sulfuric acid, borax, boric acid, and other chemicals. Cellulose insulation presents some serious health hazards, for example, it sprinkles fibers and dusts all over the living spaces, it includes some very irritating substances like borates and sulfates, and finally it may also carry potential cancer causing agents or carcinogens.

Lung disease

Numerous small openings made by drilling on the wall are usually filled up by cellulose insulation from the exterior. Manufacturers claim that cellulose insulation is an environmentally safe product. But, scientific researches inform us that breathing shredded paper dust shed from loose-fitting cellulose insulation can cause serious respiratory problems. In addition to, cellulose insulation can emit noxious gases from the fire retardants, inks, fungicides, insecticides, and solvents used in the manufacturing process.

Toxic fumes

Some sorts of cellular insulations, particularly those are made of formaldehyde and small fibers, are hazardous from environmental point of view. Harmful structural ingredients like glues and backing materials can increase the potential of health risks from the toxic fumes they release into the living spaces.

Itch inducing particles

Persons who have preexisting skin disorders and asthma are normally allergic to cellular insulation because of its itch inducing particles. These could be potentially irritating to eyes, skins, and lungs. In addition to, if the particles cast off and enter your respiratory tract, this can pose serious threats to your internal organs and weaken your cancer fighting immune system.

Petrochemicals

Some cellulose insulations are obtained as by-products during petroleum purification so they are inflammable giving off harmful gases. So, cellulose insulated residential and commercial buildings could be a source of indoor air pollution and they are meant to adversely affect the health and well-being of the tenants of such buildings.

Effects of borates and boric acid

Conscious or unconscious eating of cellulose insulation could result in death because of its highly poisonous chemical additives (i.e. borates and boric acid). Deadly toxins can also get into your body though a cut or lesion on the skin. Symptoms of poisoning include severe abdominal pain and inflammation of the skin.

Carcinogen

The New England Journal of Medicine published a review on health effects of cellulose insulation reported that “the fire retarding chemicals used to recycle cellulose insulation could be potentially carcinogenic (cancer causing)”.

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References

  • The healthy house: how to buy one, how to build one, how to cure a sick one; John Bower, 1997
  • Thermal insulation, materials, and systems for energy conservation in the ... By United States. Dept. of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 1983
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