The Not Good, The Pretty Bad, and The Also Very Bad: Materials in March (Part V)

April 7, 2017

Humankind’s quest for climate control dates back to the beginning of time.

Harnessing fire, the construction of shelters, and that ugly sweater from your great-aunt all point to our desire to conquer the elements. Insulation is a product of that instinct, keeping our homes and businesses comfortable. But we haven’t always insulated in the best ways, as you’ll see below.

The Not Good

Newsprint -- You may still find old newspapers used as insulation in historic homes. Modern folks attempting to build an environmentally friendly structure might wish insulate with newsprint, which is plentiful and inexpensive. However, newspapers go up in flames just like, well, newspapers. Cellulose insulation modernizes the same concept and treats hammer-milled newsprint with flame retardants. If you do find old newspapers in a home project, any coupons you discover have probably expired.

The Pretty Bad

Asbestos -- Asbestos insulation was first used in the late 1800’s. Naturally fire resistant and a poor electrical conductor, asbestos seemed the perfect solution for home and industrial insulation needs. The product was banned in the 1970’s after research indicated the constant inhalation of asbestos fibers was linked to a lung cancer called mesothelioma. Some manufacturers kept using asbestos even after the ban took effect.

The Also Very Bad

Vermiculite -- A shiny mineral resembling mica, vermiculite has been used as loose-fill insulation in attics. However, most of the vermiculite sold in America up until 1990 came from a Montana mine that also contained asbestos. It is reported that over 30 million homes in America may still contain asbestos-infused vermiculite.

Be safe out there.

There’s nothing funny about these dangers, still potentially present on worksites. Capitol Machine International is pleased by the great strides taken in improving the safety of insulation products. Consider us when it is time to purchase your insulation blowers and removal vacs.