What is UFFI? 

Urea-Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI) was developed in the 1950s as a way of insulating difficult-to-access wall cavities. UFFI is composed of a mixture of urea-formaldehyde resin, a foaming agent, and compressed air. When the mixture is injected into the wall, urea and formaldehyde cure into an insulating foam plastic.

During the 1970s, Canadians were encouraged to make their homes more energy-efficient by insulating the exterior walls of their homes with UFFI. UFFI was used in homes built from 1977 until its ban in 1980.

When UFFI was installed, extra formaldehyde was used to ensure that the foaming agent cured properly, and for a few days afterwards, the fumes from the extra formaldehyde off-gassed. Many Canadians sent in their complaints, and the government issued a ban due to developing concerns about the health implications.

Formaldehyde is used predominantly in the synthesis of resins, with urea-formaldehyde resins, phenolic-formaldehyde resins, and pentaerythritol resins being the types most commonly used by Canadian households. They are used to manufacture building materials and numerous household products such as plastics, adhesives, paints, varnishes, dyes and fertilizers. Because formaldehyde is also a product of combustion, fuel-burning devices such as wood stoves, fireplaces, gas stoves, or kerosene space-heaters can also be potential sources.

What are the health effects of exposure to UFFI?

Exposure to low levels of formaldehyde are harmless, but it becomes an irritating and toxic gas in significant concentrations. Symptoms of overexposure include irritation to eyes, nose, and throat; persistent cough and respiratory distress; skin irritation; nausea; headache, and dizziness.

Tests show that UFFI is not a source of over exposure to formaldehyde after the initial curing and release of excess gas. As it was last installed in 1980, it would certainly not be causing excess indoor formaldehyde off-gas today. Houses with UFFI show no higher formaldehyde levels than those without it. However, if UFFI comes into contact with water or moisture, it could begin to break down. Wet, or deteriorating UFFI should be removed by a specialist and the source of the moisture problem should be repaired.


How we can help:

UFFI Air Sampling: The collection and submission of air samples to a third-party laboratory to determine the concentration of formaldehyde in the home.  Direct readings to determine the concentration of formaldehyde in the home.