The Insulation dilemma
If you used a building product that has been known to put people at risk for asthma, dermatitis, respiratory tract irritation, itching and watery eyes, skin rashes and breathing difficulties would you use it? Millions do today.
The EPA has stated that coming into contact with unsprayed or poorly applied SPF, spray polyurethane foam can result in the list of conditions above. Here are a couple links. To the EPA and to the treehugger website.
So, the alarm has been sounded. Call me cynical but I’m just not surprised that our “greenest” insulation is not as safe as the industry makes it out to be. But, when money can be saved in energy costs and all the advantages of SPF are stacked up, then we do what we can to convince ourselves don’t we?
Unfortunately I too went for the bait and insulated the first GeoStudio with SPF. Fast forward to last month and I was doing a window repair. Two of us were scraping some foam off the wood and had a whiff of "I don't know what but egads it was awful." Whatever it was it caused instant shortness of breath and an itchy throat. It was so bad we RAN from the area. And that was just a tiny dose. There’s a reason why applicators wear the gas mask and the hazmat suits.
So after a bit of research I’ve decided to go with the “least damaging” type of insulation I know, after air-crete. That is, "rock wool". I’ve discovered that it is the most favoured insulation among green builders. Roxul ® has achieved Greenguard Gold status for indoor air quality. It does not off-gas, is made from rock and recycled slag metal, is moisture resistant, vapor permeable, mold proof and has a high melting point (2150F).
So as of now, the next GeoStudio floor is insulated with good “old fashioned” batts.
So now I’m preparing for the next step. No more guessing as to how the walls will be insulated! This pic shows the assembled floor placed on 4x4 skids. The entryway, in foreground, will be facing north while the south and east sides will have windows... and if I really do it right the door will open out to the west. Southern Albertans will know why right away! :-)
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Gilles Leclair is the founder of GeoStudios. Somewhat eccentric, fairly environmentalist, politically aware, he believes the world should have more off-grid communities... many more.