How Safe Is Your Attic Insulation?

Insulating your attic is important.  Choosing a healthy insulation product is crucial.  You may feel good about knowing your attic is insulated? But do you know the kind of insulation you have?  If you don’t, you may have a silent monster invading your home and affecting the safety and health of your family. Let’s take a look:


Asbestos encompasses 6 variations of a naturally occurring minerals.  For years, primarily between 1930 and 1970, it was used in the production of insulation products.  Because asbestos containing insulation was composed of microscopic fibers it became easily airborne.  When its microscopic fibers were disturbed, disbursed and inhaled, they were found to cause major health problems, including: mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.


Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral.  Because it was found to be inflammable, it was seen as a good insulation alternative. According to the EPA, most of the vermiculite used throughout the world came from a mine near Libby, Montana.  It was discovered that the mine also contained natural deposits of asbestos. Subsequent testing of the vermiculite taken from that site revealed that it had been contaminated by the asbestos. The mine was forced to close in 1990, however vermiculite ore continues to be mined in other countries as well as three sites here in the United States. It still serves as insulation in many homes.  Unfortunately, even vermiculite from the new mines is believed to contain small amounts of asbestos fibers.  As with other forms of asbestos related insulation, the EPA recommends it not be disturbed. It is also important not to let children play in areas where this type of insulation is present.


Zonolite is the trademarked name of a product used in attic insulation.  This insulation, primarily used between the 1940s and 1990s, was found to be tainted with asbestos. As a result, it was proven to be harmful to residents.  Unfortunately, Zonolite remains in many attics and homes throughout the United States.  Because of the high levels of asbestos it contains it continues to pose major health dangers including, asbestosis and lung cancer.

Pink Fiberglass:

One insulation that is still installed in the majority of today’s homes, particularly here in the USA, is pink fiberglass. It seems attics everywhere are lined with rolls of this type of insulation.  But these attics are not pretty in in pink.  Although fiberglass was believed to be an effective and safe alternative to asbestos, environmental investigations conducted during the 1990s became concerned when they realized it was manufactured with a formaldehyde binder.  Today, many scientists are comparing the dangers of fiberglass insulation with those of asbestos.

Polystyrene Foam Insulation:

This insulation was never intended for use in the attic, yet it is commonly found there.  The primary danger associated with this type of attic insulation is its combustibility.  Because many wires and centralized electrical connections are located in the attic, so fire must be deemed a major concern. When polystyrene foam is ignited, it burns quickly and produces a smoke that is highly toxic.


Cellulose insulation is constructed of paper products.  First, newspapers, magazines, and various grades of cardboard are shredded, crushed, pounded and milled.  Next, the material is treated with borate pest control products and chemicals to make it flame retardant. However according to the book Principles of Home Inspection, cellulose is inclined to absorb water.  The water tends to release allergens associated with the ink used on some of the printed paper included in its construction.  Furthermore, the water also serves to dilute the potency of both the borates and the fireproofing chemicals.    A study conducted by the California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation found that when testing cellulose insulation samples, the majority failed the fire safety test within a six month period following installation.  It has also proven to cause respiratory problems to those with ink allergies.

Multi-Layer Reflective Insulation:

With reports of superb performance, inflammability, and absolutely no risks of health hazards,   multi-layer reflective insulation products trump every other insulation on the market today. Specifically developed to enhance thermal efficiency and reduce the transfer of radiant, conduction and convection heat, this insulation has taken its rightful place among the most successful, safe and cost saving insulation products on the market today.  The genius is in its design and construction, which by the way, takes place right here in the USA. It is referred to as multi-layer insulation because it uses two highly reflective aluminum surfaces to resist radiant heat transfer.  This performance-enhancing feature is not available in other types of traditional mass insulation. The aluminum surfaces are bound by a blanket-like fibrous center core based on a non-toxic, closed-cell honeycomb technology.  When placed between the two outer layers of aluminum, a compound effect on the center core’s performance is created, causing the insulation’s performance to move beyond that of just a barrier. It becomes more resistant to the transfer of conduction, convection, & radiant heat, as 99% aluminum blocks up to 97% of radiant heat transfer. With this type of ecology engineered, high performance insulation, homes are more comfortable, safe and energy efficient.

Schedule An Attic Inspection

Now that you are more informed about attic insulation products, you may want to have a professional take a look at your attic.  Delaware Valley Home Eco-Tech (Attics And More) offers FREE attic inspections.  Our inspectors are certified and highly professional.  These are health, safety and energy driven inspections…NOT sales calls.  They provide a great opportunity to get the facts about your insulation without costing you a dime.  Why not call and see if there are any monsters hiding in your attic. 856-809-2744.