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Can Attic Insulation Make You Sick?

When we think about attic insulation, we often consider its benefits: energy efficiency, comfort, and reduced utility bills. However, a question that might not immediately come to mind but is equally important is: Can attic insulation make you sick? It’s crucial to understand the potential health impacts of the materials in our homes, especially something as pervasive as insulation. Let’s dive into this topic to provide clarity and guidance.

 Understanding Insulation and Health

Insulation materials are designed to create a barrier that slows the transfer of heat in and out of your home. While modern insulation products are generally safe for use in residential spaces, there are conditions under which insulation could contribute to health issues.

Potential Hazards in Insulation

  • Older Insulation Materials: Some older types of insulation, particularly vermiculite insulation installed before 1990, can contain asbestos fibers, which, when inhaled, can cause lung diseases, including cancer.
  • Fiberglass and Mineral Wool: These common insulation materials can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system if their fibers become airborne and are inhaled or come into contact with the skin.
  • Chemical Off-Gassing: Certain foam insulation materials can off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs), especially when newly installed, potentially affecting indoor air quality and health.

Recognizing Symptoms

Exposure to harmful insulation materials can lead to a range of symptoms, including:

  • Respiratory Issues: Difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing may result from inhaling airborne insulation fibers or dust.
  • Skin Irritation: Contact with fiberglass insulation can cause itchiness, redness, and discomfort.
  • Eye Irritation: Fibers or dust can irritate the eyes, leading to redness and itching.
  • Chemical Sensitivity: Exposure to VOCs can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and aggravation of asthma or allergies.

Preventive Measures and Solutions

Proper Installation and Handling

  • Professional Installation: Ensure that insulation is installed correctly by qualified professionals who can minimize the release of fibers or dust.
  • Protective Gear: During installation or any attic work, wear appropriate protective clothing, gloves, masks, and goggles.

Choosing the Right Insulation

  • Research Safe Materials: Opt for insulation materials with lower VOC emissions and those less likely to release harmful fibers. For example, certain types of foam insulation have been developed with reduced off-gassing.
  • Consider Natural Options: Some natural insulation materials, such as sheep’s wool or cellulose, may offer fewer health risks. However, it’s essential to ensure they’re treated to be fire and pest-resistant.

Maintaining Good Indoor Air Quality

  • Ventilation: Ensure your home, including the attic, is well-ventilated to mitigate the accumulation of any harmful substances.
  • Air Purification: Consider using air purifiers with HEPA filters to reduce indoor airborne particles.

Key Takeaways

  • While attic insulation is crucial for energy efficiency, certain types can pose health risks if not handled or installed correctly.
  • Symptoms of exposure to harmful insulation materials can range from respiratory issues to skin and eye irritation.
  • Taking preventive measures, such as professional installation, choosing safer materials, and maintaining good indoor air quality, can help mitigate these risks.


So, can attic insulation make you sick? Yes, in some cases, insulation materials can contribute to health issues. However, with informed choices and proper precautions, you can significantly reduce the risk and ensure your home remains a safe and comfortable environment. Always stay informed about the materials used in your home and take action to protect your indoor air quality.


This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional health or safety advice. If you suspect that your insulation may be causing health issues, it’s crucial to consult with professionals for an assessment and potential replacement.


Concerned about your attic insulation and its impact on your health? Contact us today for more information and expert guidance on safe insulation practices and materials.

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