UREA-FORMALDEHYDE FOAK INSULATION:
HEALTH EFFECTS AND REGULATION
MINI BRIEF NUMBER MB82228
Science Policy Research Division
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
COKGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
KAJOR ISSUES SYSTEM
D A T E ORIGINATED 04/27/82
D A T E UPDATED 12/12/83
FOR ADDITIONAL I N F O R M A T I O N CALL 287-5700
I S S U E DEFINITION
.-foam insulation (UFFI), a synthetic substance which when
new i s a n excellent thermal insulator, has
i n hun,dreds of
thousands of commercial and residential buildings a s a means
heating and cooling costs.
At the present t i m e , however, some residents of
these buildings a r e complaining of a variety of
research indicates that exposure to UFFI may have serious health effects.
foreign governments have
F o u r U.S. Federal agencies and
different actlons in r e l a t ~ o nto controlling potentla1 human
resultant from exposure to UFFI;
these a c t i o n s range
compensation programs to refusal t o r.egulate i n the absence of
significant risk to humans.
Public policymakers' concerns currently f o c u s on
compensatory relief programs and congressional reviews of UFFI
Rising energy p r i c e s , shortages of other insulating materials, and the l o w
cost a n d ease of installation of UFFI encouraged a dramatic increase i n the
second half of the 1 9 7 0 s in the number of buildings insulated with
As a way to reduce energy consumption and dependence upon
of e n e r g y , the U.S. Government extended thousands of tax credits to encourage
the insulation of buildings; UFFI
qualified a s a tax creditable way
i n s u l a t e a building.
(Please see MB83210 -- T h e Residential Energy
Credits; a l s o , IP0033 -- Energy Conservation.)
Building codes i n the United States rate UFFI a s a
inside buildings, a thermal barrier
fire-resistant material was requires.
Installation involved mixing
injecting under pressure, behind the thermal barrier, partially
UF r e s i n with a f o a m i n g agent and a n acid cat-alyst.
The foam hardened
minutes and cured within days.
But a number of factors in this process could
a l l o w excessive formaldehyde gas
from the UFFI t o be
excessive formaldehyde in the initial resin solution,
excessive acid catalyst in the foaming a g e n t ,
excessive foaming a g e n t ,
installation i n high heat o r humidity,
installation with chemicals a t sub-optimal temperatures,
improper use of :vapor barriers, and
installation in ceilings or other improper places.
Even when properly installed, UFFI will emit
formaldehyde in decreasing'
quantities over time (one monitoring study found
1 0 to 1 0 0 times greater
emission levels with newly installed UFFI relative to UFFI installed 3 to 5
years before measurement):'
And UFFI tends to shrink with a g e , reducing
value a s a thermal insulator.
While formaldehyde gas i n measurable
U F F I , gaseous formaldehyde can
particleboard, carpeting, draperies,
such a s grocery bags and
water-repellent-materials and clothing,
amounts has been
i n homes
and other products held
Several studies using y o u n g , healthy adults exposed f o r short durations 'in
Clean and controlled atmospheres to formaldehyde gas i n concentrations a s
smail as 0.2 parts per million (ppm) have shown irritant effects of the
n o s e , and throat.
formaldehyde g a s levels of 0.03 to 4.15 ppm t o be associated with e y e , n o s e ,
a'nd throat irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, h e a d a c h e s , irritability,
and skin rashes.
The Committee o n Toxicology
of the National
Sciences has reported that i t found no population
for the acute
effects of formaldehyde gas.
Studies indicate that formaldehyde
can react readily with other chemicals i n humans a n d animals;
i s mutagenic i n bacteria, viruses, f u n g i , insects, a n d mouse
lymphoma cells with o r without metabolic activitation;
induces chromosomal recombination i n y e a s t , i n s e c t s , cultured
mammalian cells and rats;
induces cellular transformation in certain mouse cells;
induces cancer in rat nasal tissue; and
may be carcinogenic in other species and other tissues.
(For further information on health
effects of i n d o o r a i r , please
IB83074 - - Indoor Air Quality and Health
Some Congressional Options.)
CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION
On Mar. 2 , 1 9 8 2 , the U.S.
proposed a regulation to ban the future installation of
residences a n d
T h e proposed
unreasonable risks to consumers
from the irritation, sensitization, and
possible carcinogenic effects of formaldehyde potentially
of alternative insulating materials
nearly . a l l
app,lications, and the lack of alternative a.pproaches to eliminate
adequately reduce the risks.
The proposed ban was thus deemed necessary
i n the public interest.
It was not to apply t o mobile h o m e s (see "Department
of Housing and Urban Developmentw hereafter)
nor t o 'offices, w a r e h o u s e s ,
stores, or similar commercial buildings (see "Occupational Safety a n d Health
It was a l s o t o have no e f f e c t upon UFFI
installed in buildings.
T h e proposal
included a provision
exemptions to any company which could demonstrate that i t could consistently
manufacture a UFFI product which
does not pose a n
T h e CPSC published the regulation in the F e d e r a l Register (47 FR
14366) o n Apr. 2 , 1982. Following 1 0 days of judicial r e v i e w , the regulation
was sent on f o r congressional review. Congress had 90 d a y s in which to veto
or otherwise modify the rule.
CPSC' planned to enforce t h e regulation, using
t h e authority in sections 19 t o 2 1 of the Consumer P r o d u c t Safety Act.
plans t o react to consumer complaints of il'legal installations by
UF manufacturers' and UFFI i n s t a l l e r s 1 sales r e c o r d s , then assigning civil o r
criminal penalties against violators.
2 3 , 1 9 8 2 , court cases i n
several jurisdictions haa been f i l e d , challenging the validity of the b a n ,
its w o r d i n g , its propos'ed effective date, and its inapplicability to
Commercial building installations. Despite t h e s e , the ban became effective
o n Aug. 1 0 , 1982.
(The ban was lifted on Aug. 2 4 , 1983).
of the ban, any installer of formaldehyde-emitting
UFFI was subject to a
civil fine ranging f r o m $ 2 , 0 0 0 to $ 5 0 0 , 0 0 0 per installation.
knowingly and willfully continuing to install UFFI after being notified by
the CPSC that he was in noncompliance with the l a w was t o be
criminal penalties of up to one year in jail and/or fines up to $50,000.
CPSC found that approximately
5 0 0 , 0 0 0 non-mobile
homes in the United
States are presently insulated with U F F I , or 0.59% of the total number of
non-mobile homes i n the United States today. Approximately l , 7 5 O r 0 0 0 people
reside in UFF-insulated
This i s 0.80%
of the U.S.
On' average t h e n , 3.5
persons l i v e in each UFF-insulated
As of 1 9 8 0 , the CPSC received from residents of UFF-insulate6
complaint of physical effects for every 200 installations -- the physical
health-effects complaint rate was 0.5%.
T o d a y , with
5 0 0 , 0 0 0 installatioLs,
assuming the health-effects complaint r a t e is unchanged, there could be 2 , 5 0 0
And with 3.5 persons per installation, this
means there could be 8 , 7 5 0 persons nationwide potentially being
UFFI i n their homes t o the point of complaining t o the CPSC.
the C P S C
has not been alone i n handling UFFI-related complaints..
environmental health department in the Pacific Northwest monitored 244 homes
a n d found 4 0 9 residents
(158 adult males, 1 2 2 adult f e m a l e s , and 1 3 9
children) exhibiting a t least one symptom of formaldehyde exposure. T h e same
department handled 2 0 8 0 telephone complaints in the past year.
suggest that CPSC may have underestimated the number of people exposed to
formaldehyde a t a . l e v e l sufficient to evoke a complaint.
According t o CPSC, the average cost of a UFFI installation w a s $1,500.
The average cost of removing the UFFI i s from $6,000 to $20,000.
include replacement of the UFFI with another type of insulation depending o n
the preferences of the consumer a s to who performs the service.
the cost of UFFI removal could cost a s much a s $3-10 billion.
The effect of UFFI in residential walls on non-mobile home r e s a l e value i s
the resale value may be increased
(due to improved thermal
insulative properties), may be reduced
(due to negative value of UFFI
publicity a n d potential health effects), or may be unchanged.
T h e Commission
has estimated the possible property value reductions a t $ 6 , 0 0 0 t o $ 2 0 , 0 0 0 per
h o u s e , i.e., the c o s t of removal of the UFFI.
T h e r e does n o t ' n o w appear to
b e ' s o l i d evidence from which to assess the consistent direction o r magnitude
of effect upon house prices due to UFFI.
There a r e currently n o national
laws requiring sellers to disclose whether their houses have UFFI.
National Association.of Realtors h a s issued a directive to all realtor boards
nationwide suggesting that: (a) the seller Complete a form stating the " Y e s , "
" N o t 1 'or "Maybe" presence of UFFI, a n d ; (b) the purcha.ser complete a second
form acknowledging receipt of this information prior to tendering a n offer to
Of crucial le.gal concern a r e the adherence t o the real estate agents'
C o d e of Ethics, and the implied warranty of habitability
(wherein an a g e n t
must disclose information of any known health hazard).
T h e CPSC stated that complaints of health effects from UFFI exposure occur
With installations of any a g e , from recent to several years p r i o r ; 1 9 7 7 w a s a
notable year for the dramatic increase in the number of UFFI installations.
residential UFFI installations:
C P S C estimates the following number
OF RESIDENTIAL INSTALLATIONS
W h i l e the number of installations has been steadily d e c l i n i n g , the
Of health-effects complaints has been proportionately increasing.
T h e CPSC also stated its position that formaldehyde
c a u s e . harmful
in homes are sufficient, in i t s opin i o n , to
T h e Commission's upper value of risk was estimated to be 89 malignant cancers
1 , 7 5 0 , 0 0 0 persons
developing amcng the estimated
popu lation of
exposed i n 5 0 0 , 0 0 0 UFFI homes, using the data from actual measurements
residences. The 89 cancers repre sent 0.005%
the 1 , 7 5 0 , 0 0 0 persons
t o UFFI
in th eir h o m e s , and
avoiding one UFFI-caused
The CPSC estimates the cost
malignant cancer t o be $164,000 t o $ 292,000. T h e Commission pointed out that
these ratios considered only the red.uced risk of malignant
c a n c e r , and
not include other health benefits, r,educed medical and
c o s t s , and
certain. condi tions, certain
asurem ents in homes on request.
a n d Health
cupati onal Safety
(NIOSH) procedure are
s s a c h u setrs, Michigan, Minnesota, New H a m p s h i r e , New J e r s e y , New
U sing the Drager system a r e Connecticut and Texas.
i o , a n d' Washington.
e t w o procedures
a r e chemically
slightly different but
suits with comparable accuracy; some scientists maintain
that the Drager
system is less reliable.
Formaldehyde can be filtered o u t of the a i r , extracted o n t o a chemically
treated wick-bottle or g e l , sealed
in the w a l l s , or vented.
effectiveness of these methods were not presented in the C P S C regulation (see
"The Canadian S i t u a t i o n v hereafter)
On Jan. 1 2 , 1 9 8 3 , the CPSC announced that i t i s collecting information o n
formaldehyde released from pressed-wood products.
this investigation could be a product standard requiring
products emit no m o r e than a
specified a m o u n t of
standard may be met through carefully controlled and monitored
and curing techniques.
(The CPSC concluded that such a standard could not be
met b.y UFFI owing t o the excessive number and magnitude
variables involved i n the installation a n d
curing of UFFI.)
A ban on
pressed-wood products i s another possible, but less l i k e l y , outcome of
The ,CPSC investigation
w a s prqmpted
complaints involving 3 7 0 0 people.
In August 1 9 8 2 , the C o n s u m e r s Federation
requesteC the CPSC to limit
pressed-wood products to 0.05 ppm.
The CPSC plans to make
a n announcement
about the findings of its investigation in the third quarter of FY.83.
the 5th Circuit Court in New
On Apr. 8, 1 9 8 3 , a three-judge panel of
Orleans ruled rhat the CPSC ban of UFFI i s illegal; the decision was based
upon their finding that the Commission did not present sufficient evidence to
support the ban action.
On May 5 , 1 9 8 3 , the CPSC filed for a rehearing.
On Apr. 2 0 , 1 9 8 3 , 23 Members of Congress sent a letter
t o CPSC Chairman
Nancy Steorts stating that "Formaldehyde insulation is a dangerous
that must be kept out of homes."
The letter,urged the chairman to "Please do
all you can to prevent this ban from being lifted."
The Insulation Contractors Association of America's Executive Director, R.
Hartly E d e s , commented on the Fifth Circuit court's decision by
d o n ' t see that there's going to be any new effect on the industry by i t s (the
CPSC ban on future UFFI installations) being overturned."
a s insulating
material because of i t s shrinkage (after installation).
When you leave up to
a 4% void in insulation, you can have heat loss of up to 50%."
Ed Stana of the Formaldehyde Institute commented that t h e UFFI
" i s down to just about z e r o , " but that " i t ' s too early to tell" if
Orleans ruling would likely revive the business.
ranking 1 7 known
On May 9 , CPSC released a draft discussion
Formaldehyde was the seventh most potent carcinogen.
T h e paper
discussed the major disadvantages and
limitations of potency
including nonconsideration of human exposure information, a n d reduction of
risk assessment ranges to single values.
T h e paper i s receiving peer review.
By mid-June 1 9 8 3 , the CPSC petition f o r a re-hearing had been denied.
a letter dated Aug. 2 4 , 1 9 8 3 , the Solicitor General notified the CPSC that he
would not issue a writ of certiorari to send the case to the
Also, the ban was lifted o n that date.
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has prohibited
the installation of rigid formaldehyde insulation in mobile homes since 1 9 7 6
(based upon common knowledge of -the fire h a z a r d ' o f the insulation), and i t is
currently considering whether a rule i s needed to regulate formaldehyde in
particleboard, draperie's, carpeting, and other products in mobile homes (Aug.
2 8 , 1981 Federal Register).
On Mar. 2 2 , 1 9 8 3 , HUD disapproved further use
i n its mortgage
insurance and low-income Public Housing program pursuant to the C P S C ban.
OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
In 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table 2-2, the Federal. Occupational Safety and Health .
Administration (OSHA) states that employees ma.y be exposed to formaldehyde a t
a level of 3 ppm a s a n 8-hour time-weighted average (this i s the Permissible
Exposure L i m i t , or PEL), with an acceptable ceiling concentration of 5 p p m ,
and that the acceptable maximum peak above
Concentration for a n 8-hour shift is 1 0 ppm f o r less than 3 0 minutes; this
only to States ad~ninistered by Federal OSHA.
- programs have a PEL of 2 ppm.
Some labor unions have petitioned OS HA t o reduce its
concentration , and the National Institu t e o f occupa tiona
(the research arm of- OSHA) has proposed the P E L be reduc
has responded that i t does not recogniz e su f f icient evi
a n empl oyee
tightening of the standard.
complaint and an CSHA inspector can res pone. by equi PPing
personal dosi meter to measure the worke r ' s exposure to
has received reports of rare nasal c a,ricers i n
f o r m a l d e h y d e ; these reports are being investigated.
allowable expo sure
Safety and H e alth
d to 1 p p m , but OSHA
ence to warran t a
can f i l e a he alth
the employee wit h a
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGEHCY
On Feb. 1 2 , 1 9 6 2 , J o h n A. Todhunter -- then the U.S.
Protection Agency's (EPA) assistant administrator for pesticides and toxic
substances -- announced
the agency's official position on f o r m a l d e h y d e ,
Saying that the chemical should not be regulated under section 4(f)
T o x i c S u b s t a n c e s ' C o n t r o l Act because it does not cause "significant risks of
serious o r widespread harm of cancer," and that the E P A W s tentative decisions
in 1 9 8 0 to regulate formaldehyde were "incomplete a n d flawed."
a g e n c y ' s conclusion not t o regulate formaldehyde under section 4(f) of T S C A ,
the EPA continued in i t s 5-step workplan f o r evaluating formaldehyde.
workplan schedule began Jan. 4, 1 9 8 2 , and w a s planned to take 8 months to
complete. T h e first step was almost complete a s of Feb. 1 2 , 1982.
entire study was to include evaluations of the applicability of animal data
to potential human carcinogenicity, human exposure levels and resultant
r i s k s , coordinated interagency and outside group data-gathering, a n d outside
3 0 , 1 9 8 2 , EPA
peer review of hazard, exposure, and risk data.
Pesticides and Toxics Assessment Division Director Joseph Merenda said that a
major revision of the schedule was to be announced when ready; a date w a s not
given a t that time.
On May 1 8 - 1 9 , 1 9 8 2 , the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Consumer and
Monetary Affairs of the House Government Operations Committee held hearings
on the effects of exposure to formaldehyde, with emphasis o n formaldehyde
e m i s s l o n ~ from UFFI.
2 0 , 1 9 8 2 , the
Investigations and Oversight of the House Committee on Science and Technology
. held a hearing on the specific
topic of E P A ' s posit-ion t o not regulate
formaldehyde under section 4(f) of T S C A , and on the more general topic of
EPA's current position on the level of risk and scientific certainty
necessary t o trigger regulatory action.
In connection with these hearings,
the EPA announced its negotiation wlth the National Center for Toxicological
Research (NCTR) for f u r t h e r formaldehyde research using project-specific
f u n d s from E P A ; the EPA signed the agreement i n July 1982.
EPA said NCTR
Establish expert review panels in the areas
of formaldehyde, toxicology, epidemiology,
exposure, and risk.
Establish a clearinghouse to identify ongoing
studies and to coordinate the exchange of
scientific data on formaldehyde exposure and
health effects studies.
Develop coordinated data bases of reviewed a n d
validated scientific knowledge in the areas of
each of the panels listed a b o v e , to be
supplemented by new data a s they are developed
through various ongoing studies.
Hold an international consensus building
workshop in which the panels and other
scientists krill discuss' the available d a t a ,
reach conclusions as to their interpretation,
a n d identify an.y remainins gaps requiring
Complete and submit for publication a
peer-reviewed report of the workshop's
conclusions concerning formaldehyde health
EPA said the NCTR p.rogram will
additional Office of Toxic Substances projects
aimed a t
efforts of the expert revi.ew pan'els o r a t filling certain data gaps;
specific nature of those activities will
established a n d begin reviewing the available data bases."
EPA a t that time
did n o t say if discussions to be held in connection
would be open to the public or other scientists.
project i s a n Executive
2 representatives each from
ineustry, a c a d e m e , government, and public interest groups.
The f i r s t meeting
of the P a n e l was held on Oct. 29-30, 1 9 8 2 ; discussion
desirability and.workability of opening meetings to the public.
concluded that pubiic input is needed and will be sought v i a announcements in
the Federal Register (the first of which
7 , 1982), and
relevant journals (one advertisement appeared in the Dec. 1 7 , 1 9 8 2 , issue of
The P a n e l a l s o planned
consensus w o r k s h o p s ,
focusing entirely upon the scientific (and not the policy) issues relating to
formaldehyde from approximately J u n e through October 1983.
On Jan. 7 , 1 9 8 3 , the Natural Resources Defense council
(NRDC) sent a
letter to the EPA Administrator (then Anne. Gorsuch
Agency that the NRDC intends t o
sue the government for failing to list
formaldehyde under section 4(f) of TSCA; the suit will be
required 60-day period following receipt of the notification letter.
On July 1 2 , 1983 President Reagan s i g n e d - t h e HUD and Independent Agencies
Appropriations Act of 1 9 8 4 which included $ 2 million f o r a multi-agency
force on indoor air quality; the task force is co-chaired by the E P A , C P S C ,
and the Department of Energy.
T H E CANADIAN SITUATION
The u s e of UFFI in residences was banned i n Canada i n December
the r e s u l t of tremendous public pressure in response to media coverage o f the
potential health effects of UFFI.
T h e Canadian
(CMHC) instituted a response program
modification over time.
Mortgage and Housing
The first step of the program was an information campaign, to
citizenry of t h e UFFI response pr6gram.
Originally, homeowners had
to demonstrate that they had ex,perienced
medical problems due to UF$I and/or had homes with indoor formaldehyde levels
exceeding 0.1 ppm i n order to be eligible under the UFFI response program.
T h e h o m e o w n e r s . h a d to perform preliminary testing to determine if full-scale
testing was required. Full-scale testing c o s t $ 1 0 0 , reimSursed through the
Now, preliminary testing is optional and full-scale t e s t i n g , if
r e q u i r e d , i s free.
F u r t h e r , homeowners originally had to imple'ment corrective m.easures
recommended by CMHC to be eligible for financial assistance. N o w , the kind
of Corrective measures undertaken is the choice of the homeowner, with CMHC
providing technical information and estimates for a l l possible
measures, and a current list of registered contractors who have successfully
followed the government training course o n corrective measures.
Homeowners originally had to pay $100 to attend a training course on
corrective m e a s u r e s , With no choice of location of study. N o w , the course is
f r e e , is available in more a r e a s more often (including evening and weekend
courses), and even includes a home study program. This i s the s a m e training
course required of registered contractors.
Upon successful completion of the
c o u r s e , a homeowner may perform his own corrective measures and be eligible
for assistance through the UFFI program.
Topics c o v e r e d , i n the course
include the relati.ve advantages a n C disadvantages of different remedial
measures in different circumstances; the remedial measures are:
compounds and vapor barriers; ventilation;
chemical absorption filters;
ammonia gas; r e m o v a l ; a n d - t r e a t m e n t of contaminated material remaining after
removal and p r i o r ' t o rebuilding.
Advance payments up to $ 2 , 5 0 0 are presently available if needed to
Undertake corrective work.
U p to $ 5 , 0 0 0 per dwelling will be given,
tax-free, to registered.homeowners for expenses incurred i n the course of
of 3 dwellings
corrective measures, including removal. T h e r e i s a maximum
Eligible houses must be located in C a n a d a , a n d may be
detached, l i n k , semi-detached o r part of a r o w , duplex or t r i p l e x , or
prefab,ricated, or a condominium, or a mobile home on a permanent foundation.
Homeowner.s must apply f o r assistance
corrective work can begin later.
T h e CMHC will test for formaldehyde levels after corrective measures are
completed, a n d a Statement of T e s t Results will be issued to the homeowner.
A s of June 1 , 1 9 8 3 , more than 4 3 , 0 0 0 homeowners were registered
In the autumn of 1 9 8 1 the C M H C tested 2 , 4 0 0 homes for formaldehyde levels;
2,000 of those h o m e s had U F F I , and 4 0 0 lacked UFFI.
Of the 400 without U F F I ,
1 1 (around 3%) had formaldehyde levels exceeding 0.1 p p m , t h e highest level
deemed acceptable f o r homes by Health & Welfare Canada. Of t,he 2,000 with
From these d a t a ,
U F F I , 198 (9.9%) had levels exceeding the 0.1 ppm standard.
the CMHC estimated that about 8 , 0 0 0 houses (10% of the housing
Canada will require some remedial work.
Canada i s presently spending about $ 1 million for medical
UFFI health effects, a n d . f o r further research
on U F F I , its reaction with
other materials, the characteristics of gases and particles
U F F I , corrective measures t o reduce or eliminate effects of UFFI
spaces, and testing methods for formaldehyde and other potential emissions.
There i s a l s o the- Canadian Home
assist homeowners t o improve the insulation of
retroactive CHIP grant has been made available to homeowners whose
costs under the UFFI program exceed $5,000. The program may reimburse 6 0 % of
eligible costs of re-insulation, up to a maximum of:
$500 for a
semi-detached, r o w , or mobile home; $ 2 8 5 for a unit i n an apartment building
of three stories or l e s s , and of six units or less (includes duplexies); $215
for a unit i n an apartment building of three stories or l e s s , having
than six units
(these a r e not
eligible for assistance under
THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION
Approximately 4 5 , 0 0 0 structures i n Australia have been insulated with UFFI
Some adverse health effects have been reported where
was not properly installed; these health
The concentration of formaldehyde deemed acceptable in private housing i s 0.1
UFFI was f i r s t marketed in Austria about fifteen years ago but
i s seldom
used today i n either the industrial or the private sector.
Where i t i s u s e d ,
slow construction, possible health problems from
emissions a r e minimized because most residential buildings are n o t occupied
until a year after the insulation has been installed.
Common use of UFFI b e g a n . i n 1975 i n the industrial and private
UFFI i s used only t o insulate conventional
hollow w a l l s ,
although tests are i n progress examining
have been reports i n Belgium of medical problems
attributed to UFFI.
Belgian government has not yet decided whether
to ban 'UFFI or t o impose
standards a n d controls.
UFFI has been used i n Denmark since the early 1950s.
It has been used
very reduced quantit7ies s i n c e 1981.
From 1 9 7 6 to 1 9 8 1 , between
1 , 8 0 0 residences and commercial buildings were insulated each y e a r With UFFI.
About 1 0 0 buildings a year a r e currently insulated with
problems have been reported.
have removed t h e UFFI
government . i s currently preparing
regulations regarding U F F I , specifying that the concentration of formaldehyde
in room air must not exceed 0.12 ppm.
Although available for the last ten y e a r s , UFFI has seen only limited
i n Finland.
Only old houses built of wood
and a f e w schools have been
appears to have
Though i n common use i n France since the 1 9 7 0 ~ UFFI
caused few complaints.
The installation of UFFI in houses
is regulated by
.the "Centre scientifique et technique
reported a s
t h e guidelines a r e
in the private
UFFI was first used i n industry i n the 1950s and
There i s a government standard f o r emission l e v e l s and the standard
is Well enforced, although it is reported that the installers have a great
deal of difficulty in meeting the emission standard.
T h e public a p p e a r s
have been. informed of
T h e German
government is drafting UFFI product and installation standards
the same i n 1978).
The Netherlands has a n acceptable formaldehyde concentration
T h e government will test any house claimed t o exceed the standard.
If the air inside the house exceeds the s t a n d a r d , the UFFI
required to remove the insulation a t their own expense.
UFFI has been widely
installed i n the Netherlands.
There has been very little basic research o n
UFFI conducted by government researchers; they are enthusiastic a b o u t f o r m i n g
a cooperative research program with Canada.
In the Netherlands, formaldehyde
emissions from particleboard receive much
UFFI was first marketed in Norway i n the 1 9 6 0 s yet has
since 1975 because of i t s ineffectiveness a s a thermal insulator.
UFFI was first used o n a limited basis i n the 1 9 5 0 s i n Sweden but w a s
banned i n s o m e regions i n 1 9 7 4 because of i t s strong odor and the damage that
i t can cause to construction materials.
T h e use of UFFI i s presently subject
UFF-insulated housing ranges from 0.1 to 0 . 7 ppm depending upon the type
While UFFI wds introduced twenty years a g o to the United K i n g d o m , wider
use of the product has occurred only i n the last ten years.
biore than a
million homes are
few complaints have been
reported in recent years concerning formaldehyde emissions from UFFI.
recommended that UFFI be installed only i n masonry
with established standards.
I t a l y , J a p a n , S p a i n , Switzerland
UFFI has been in limited use in these countries for about
. ~ h e s ecountries appear to have no restrictions on the installation of
and f e w significant problems resulting from it.
It should be noted that the
UFFI used in Spain and
Switzerland a r e improved
capable of emitting formaldehyde.
P O I N T S FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION
Public policymakers' concerns currently f o c u s on 1) the question
for and the mechanics i n establishing Federal programs
to compensate those
persons suffering adverse health effects from exposure t o UFFI
homes; 2) the question of need for and the mechanics in establishing
compensate those home'owners whose property
adversely affected by having UFFI; and
legislative oversight of
Federal agencies whose
responsibilities include the a s s e s s i n g of
setting of standards, and enforcement of regulations relating to UFFI.
presently a matter of controversy a s to whether
various Federal agencies are premature, inadequate, unnecessarily restrictive
or intrusive, or scientifically defensible.
H.R. 3819 i n the 98th Congress
seeks to assist homeowners in taking
Corrective measures to reduce the indoor
dwellings with UFFI exceeding 0.1 ppm by authorizing the Secretary of Housing
a n d Urban Develop,ment t o grant up to $ 1 0 , 0 0 0 per dwelling t o homeowners, for
n o more than three dwellings, for corrective measures taken.
T h e bill
been referred to the House Committee on B a n k i n g , Finance a n d Urban Affair-.
H.R. 2533 in the 98th Congress seeks to amend the Internal Revenue Code to
a l l o w a refundable income tax
to individuals f o r expenditures to'
r e m o v e UFFI
from their homes.
The bill a l s o provides
formaldehyde levels in h o m e s , and surveying the extent of UFFI
The bill has been referred to the House Committee o n Banking,
Finance and Urban Affairs, and to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
T h e House Small Business Committee in the 97th Congress held
H.R. 6 3 8 9 , 6 3 9 0 , 6 3 9 1 , 6 4 3 7 and 6 5 2 4 and
the topic of UFFI on Aug. 4, 1982.
S. 2763 Were
i n the 97th Congress aimed a t providing
assistance t o homeowners for removal of the UFFI.