Hazards of Old Insulation

Everyone knows that good insulation can keep many unwanted things out of your home, but how many people think about the undesirable health hazards that old insulation can bring into your home? Depending on the type of insulation you have in your home, your health could be compromised, and your insulation could also be too old to be effective. This article will focus on the health hazards of old insulation as well as how to identify it.

Identifying Old Insulation

A few examples of older insulation are loose-fill or batt fiberglass insulation. Batt fiberglass is often identifiable by color, and it can come in the pink, yellow or white variety. While fiberglass insulation is still used today, older insulation tends to be discolored or torn, making it far less effective. Another older type of insulation is loose fill rockwool, easily identifiable by its greyish, wool-like appearance. A few more examples of old insulation are sawdust, balsa wood, shredded newspaper and loose-fill cellulose.

Types of Dangerous Old Insulation

Although most people are aware of the dangers of asbestos, there are a few more types of hazardous insulation that are commonly found in older homes. If you do have asbestos insulation in your home, you should not try to remove it yourself. The safest way to remove asbestos from your home is to hire an asbestos abatement contractor.


Vermiculite is a pretty popular and widely used type of insulation. It’s pretty easy to identify. It looks like loose gravel or small packing peanuts. Vermiculite itself is not dangerous, but if your home was built before 1990, it’s probably contaminated with asbestos. This is because most of the vermiculite produced in the United States before 1990 came from a mine that was found to contain a deposit of asbestos.

Urea Formaldehyde Foam

The use of urea formaldehyde foam dates back to the early 1930’s. It has a yellowish color and looks like oozing liquid that has been hardened. Although urea formaldehyde foam is usually found in homes built before the 1970’s, it was also used extensively up until the 1980’s. Eventually, this type of insulation was found to emit formaldehyde vapors during the curing process. In turn, the increased formaldehyde levels caused multiple adverse health effects impacting the eyes, nose, and respiratory systems.


Asbestos insulation has been officially banned in most countries since the late 1980’s. Nevertheless, it’s still found in many older homes across the country. Asbestos can cause a wide variety of health issues. Here is a list of a few of them:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Asbestosis
  • Lung cancer
  • The increased risk of throat, esophagus and kidney cancers.

As you can see, keeping that old insulation around can carry a lot of risks. Besides, the older the insulation, the less effective it is at insulating your home. So if you have an older home and suspect that it may still have old insulation, give it a once over, and with these tips you’ll be on your way to an energy-efficient, healthier home in no time!





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