Removing formaldehyde from glasswool
Historically glasswool has been made using phenol formaldehyde additive, however recent technological developments have resulted in leading manufacturers supplying products made without added formaldehyde. This is in response to leading health authorities around the world being increasingly aware to health risks associated with formaldehyde.
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies formaldehyde as carcinogenic to humans.
- In the United States, the National Toxicology Program lists formaldehyde as “known to be a human carcinogen”.
- In Australia, Safe Work Australia recognises formaldehyde as a category 2 carcinogen: may cause cancer by inhalation.
- In New Zealand, the Department of Labour advises that formaldehyde is classified as a confirmed carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent. The New Zealand Department of Labour – “Even very low workplace carcinogenic risks are considered unacceptable; and some predictive models suggest such risks cannot be completely excluded with formaldehyde levels of 1 [part per million] (or indeed lower than that). With suspected or even potential carcinogens, minimising levels to the extent feasible can always be justified from a safety perspective.”
The use of formaldehyde in the manufacture of glasswool insulation is a dated manufacturing technique, which some insulation manufacturers still use today. Recognising the trend away from formaldehyde in manufacturing and the health benefits for installers and building occupants, Knauf Insulation pioneered the development of ECOSE® Technology, a formaldehyde-free binder. All Knauf Insulation’s Earthwool® products are made using ECOSE Technology and therefore contain no added formaldehyde, phenols or petro-based chemicals.
Remember, when considering a glasswool product, look out for certification marks that highlight the safety and environmental performance of the product.