Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blue Jean Insulation

This is my car, completely stuffed with UltraTouch insulation.  This insulation is made from 100% cotton, 85% which is post-industrial recycled cotton (blue jeans, maybe??) and contains no VOCs or formaldehyde.  I purchased the product at DeVries Building Supply in Sheffied, Ma.  Very nice people and they deliver to Connecticut.  We're going to use it in the walls and ceilings for sound suppression in the music room.   The great thing about the stuff is that while Jer and I are installing it, the kids can be sitting on a pile watching a movie in perfect, safe comfort.
Today, all the subs finished with the rough-ins and I worked on the shower base in the downstairs bath.  I learned the difference between mortar and cement.  We'll be working hard the next couple days getting ready for the drywall contractor.  Also tomorrow we are having an intermediate blower door test to see if we have any air gaps that need filling.


Anonymous said...

I’m not trying to be a pest but I would be very interested in your thoughts on some insulation issues raised by your post. First, a few corrections to your post and then questions. I am quite interested in your thoughts.

1. You say “This insulation is made from 100% cotton, 85% which is post-industrial recycled cotton.” Untrue. Cotton is combustible and cannot be used as insulation unless fire retardant chemicals are added to reduce the fire hazard. This product is at least 15% by weight added fire retardant chemical. Thus, if a batt weighs 7 pounds, 1 whole pound is the fire retardant chemical – usually borates.
2. You wonder if the insulation is made from blue jeans. Although there are charity drives to donate old jeans to make insulation, my understanding is that this product has virtually no post-consumer recycled content; instead, it is made from post-industrial denim scraps.
3. You say “contains no VOCs or formaldehyde.” I don’t know if this is true and the only way to tell is to test the product for formaldehyde and VOC emissions. The mfg’er should have done this and reported to you. Remember that a formaldehyde-based resin is added to some denim to impart wrinkle-free properties.
4. You say “The great thing about the stuff is that … the kids can be sitting on a pile watching a movie in perfect, safe comfort.” I don’t know how safe this insulation is but if it contains 15% by weight fire retardant chemical. It might not be a good idea to let kids lay on it. And some manufacturers also claim that the fire retardant chemical is strong enough to kill pests like cockroaches. In fact the borates are the active ingredient in such products as Roach-Ridd and Zap-a-Roach.

Consider the following about Johns Manville’s Formaldehyde-freeTM fiber glass insulation:
A. glass fibers are inert and naturally fire resistant without the need for fire retardant chemicals (although a smaller amount of fire retardant chemical is added to the kraft paper facer). JM’s fiber glass is also naturally mold resistant and does not provide a potential food source for mold like cotton could.
B. JM’s fiber glass building insulation is not made with and testing at independent labs show it does not emit formaldehyde. JM’s product tests also show there are no detectable emissions of VOCs of concern.
C. JM’s fiber glass building insulation is certified to contain at least 20% post-consumer recycled bottle glass (North American average), the highest certified post-consumer content in our industry. Our plant in Canada uses at least 40% post-consumer recycled glass.
D. JM Formaldehyde-freeTM fiber glass building insulation is available at most big box retailers and is roughly one-fifth to one-quarter the cost of denim insulation (based on what I have read on the net).
E. JM Formaldehyde-freeTM fiber glass insulation is made in the US and Canada by full-time employees who enjoy good wages and full benefits, including health insurance, dental insurance, and retirement benefits. Many workers are unionized. We know nothing about the working conditions for either the underlying agricultural cotton workers or the denim manufacturing workers. I have read that some denim for insulation is sourced from Mexico.
F. No pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers are used in making fiber glass insulation. I don’t know if the same can be said about the cotton used for the denim in the insulation. Also, no chemical dyes are used for the fiber glass while denim uses a variety of chemical dyes to make it blue.

Now, knowing all this a few questions:
1. How much did you know about denim insulation when you made your purchase?
2. Where did you learn what you knew at time of purchase?
3. Did you know about the 15% by weight fire retardant chemical?
4. Would you consider buying JM Formaldehyde-freeTM fiber glass building insulation in the future?
5. Do you have any questions?


Bruce Ray
Johns Manville

Jeremy and Karann said...

Wow. It's obvious you are a sales rep for JM, who I will remind our readers made asbestos a household name in America, and we all know how that ended. I looked pretty hard at the JM website and didn't find any references to LEED, the US Green Building Council, or any corporate programs JM has invested in to make their products more environmentally friendly, or healthier for installers, workers, or homeowners (with the exception of formaldehyde free). As a consumer, it's my responsibility to research the products I use and weigh the attributes against my personal beliefs and goals of my project. I did consider many of the aspects that you raised. However, having worked as an environmental engineer for many large petrochemical and manufacturing corporations (remain unnamed) during my career, I have a cynicism towards any environmental or occupational safety claims from companies like yours. I've contacted Bonded Logic so they have the opportunity to respond to your comments as well.

Okima said...

It's two since since your last posting. Dying to see the siding and interior walls.

Okima said...

OOOps. That is -- two WEEKS!

Okipa said...

JM Rep said: "In fact the borates are the active ingredient in such products as Roach-Ridd and Zap-a-Roach."

True - as far as it goes. But he neglected to mention that borates aren't toxic to people or pets.

Unless they keep cockroaches for pets up there at JM....