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foam insulation and off-gassing

mmoogie's picture

I've got a whole-house remodel coming up where the client wants to avoid things that off-gas. She specifically doesn't feel good about foam insulation, but doesn't know why, exactly.

If I could find an authoritative source for what precisely is off-gassed from the various foams out there I may be able to convince her to allow me to use some where it would be most ICF foundation, etc.

Does anyone know of a reference source for such information?

What are ICF's? EPS or XPS? What if any off-gassing is associated with EPS? XPS? PUR?


Edited 9/9/2008 11:29 pm by mmoogie

(post #115309, reply #1 of 5)

GreenGuard is an independent non-profit organization that does certification of materials to evaluate whether or not they qualify as low-VOC or no-VOC according to various existing standards and they do research that helps to establish safe levels of VOC off-gassing. They have a section of product listings including a category for insulation. Here's their website:

As long as the insulation in the ICF is certified low/no-VOC then you have a piece of paper to show your client.

Have you done low/no-voc projects before? Because I could give you a few more links on products. GreenGuard is a great place to start.



Live light enough to see the humour and long enough to see change.

-Ani DiFranco

Live light enough to see the humour and long enough to see change.

-Ani DiFranco

(post #115309, reply #2 of 5)

The types of ICFs with which I'm familiar are EPS -- advertised as non-VOC in normal use (ie, when not on fire).  No CFCs or HCFCs.

(post #115309, reply #5 of 5)

Just as matter of clarification, XPS is extruded polystyrene, and EPS is expanded polystyrene (beadboard), Correct?


Edited 9/10/2008 11:01 am by mmoogie

Edited 9/10/2008 11:28 am by mmoogie

(post #115309, reply #3 of 5)

I know that dow board and formular are not subject to off gassing, whereas polyisocyanerate foem does.  I had a discussion back in the 90's with a Dow rep about it.

(post #115309, reply #4 of 5)

My last client who was extremely concerned was ultimately satisfied primarily by her own testing.  I gave her a sample of whatever to sleep with.  Wood, finish, glue, everything.


PAHS works.  Bury it.

Edited 9/10/2008 9:47 am ET by VaTom

PAHS works.  Bury it.