Consulting
Engineers of
Ontario



Markham Waxers


Environmental
Abatement Council
of Ontario

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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OVERVIEW

Urea Formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was used in the early 1900's in many residential and commercial buildings as a subsequent or main insulating material in walls and ceiling spaces. Liquid foam was sprayed into an area to be insulated where it expanded to completely fill the space and hardened. Unfortunately it was found that this type of foam insulation emitted toxic formaldehyde fumes causing serious respiratory health effects. Subsequently many homes and commercial buildings had the foam removed by qualified contractors.

However, many structures still have the UFFI material in place. Presently there is a disclosure clause in every real estate agreement concerning UFFI. In many instances, however, building owners are unaware that their building contains UFFI passed on by former owners. Identification of UFFI can avoid potential health and safety issues for the contractor and liabilities for the owner and architect.

As a licensed and responsible professional you must be aware of and identify the presence or absence of these materials when dealing with building retrofits. Failure to advise your client(s) or contractors working on a project of the presence of hazardous materials in and/or on a property may present you with potential future liabilities. It is your obligation to protect the interests of your client(s), the health and safety of workers, and the natural environment.

Restoration Environmental Contractors will arrange an independent consultant for hazardous materials and other potential environmental concerns on residential, commercial and industrial properties. Each assessment includes sampling of all suspected hazardous materials, confirmatory laboratory analysis and complete reporting of all findings. We can also complete specifications and tender packages for any required remedial activities and perform project management services.

All environmental consultants and environmental engineers are licensed, have errors and omissions insurance and pollution, asbestos and environmental coverage.

STANDARDS FOR PROPER UFFI REMOVAL

In addition to complying with local and Provincial building codes, a proper Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI) removal must be done in accordance with Federal Government UFFI Centre Specifications 82:03R2.

These specifications have been established and are adhered to by contractors licensed to engage in UFFI removals. The specifications require careful and thorough removal of UFFI found on the premises. While the Corrective Remedial Measures Grant Program has now been terminated, the standards for proper removal have been established, and , according to Don Bremner, should be adhered to in order for cleints to be assured of proper removal. This practice in turn will enable the property owner to make a valid claim to a prospective purchaser that the UFFI removal have met government and industry standards.

In order for all UFFI to be removed, a careful exposure of all UFFI on the premises is required along with a mechanical removal of the foam. In addition, surfaces that have been in contact with UFFI must be properly washed and allowed to dry.

Independent inspections testifying to the completeness of the removal is both appropriate and required. Air quality tests after the removal procedures and the neutralization of the surfaces with which UFFI has come into contact are also needed. In 1982, Mr. Bremner began to promote using independent testing because CMHC inpectors only inspected the contractor's quality of work but did not cerify the UFFI removal. No certificates were ever issued by the Federal Government for Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC); only a "Progress Report" was issued at the time of removal which usually stated that "the work is completed satisfactorily in accordance with UFFI Centre Specifications 82: 03R2".

UFFI INSTALLATION

UFFI was installed by using pumpset and hoses with a mixing gun to mix the foaming agent and the resin, to produce a "Shaving Cream" product called Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI).

The UFFI was installed under air pressure, up to 100lbs. of air pressure per square inch (psi) and injected through 1/2" - 2" holes in mortar joints, drywall, wood siding, aluminum siding, concrete blocks, etc.. Almost all forms of construction had UFFI installed.

UFFI was also used as sound insulation, air sealant in commercial and industrial and has been found in attics, common walls of row houses or semi-detached homes, office walls, apartment buildings, condominiums and garage ceilings where rooms are over garages.

Because if the installation procedures which involved extreme air pressure, UFFI has been found in many areas in which it was not suppposed to be:

-air sealant around columns and electrical outlets and switch plates
-windows and electrical boxes
-foundation blocks and sill plate
-attic and knee wall areas
-basement perimeter sill and floor joist plate duct work
-fireplace chimneys
-floor joists and ceilings between floors
-abutting wall attached walls where UFFI was installed
-between double brick
-between brick and cinder block
-between block or brick and gyproc and plaster
-in soffits
-in veranda overhangs
-under bathtubs
-in bay window boxes
-around noisy pipes in bathroom
-around plumbings
-used as a sealing material (anywhere there was a cold draft UFFI could have been used)

Of course, UFFI is most extensively found in walls or residential homes in one of two ways. It could be installed through the exterior sheathing, brick block, wood or aluminum siding, shingles, insulbrick or cedar shakes - in some cases, prior to new siding being installed or the shake or shingle removed, and then, reinstalled covering the holes with wood and plastic plugs, mortar, etc.. Alternatively, it could be installed from the interior by drilling holes through plaster and lather, gyproc or drywall - in most cases holes were replastered or covered with wallpaper.

If you have recently found or suspect UFFI and are looking for more information, contact any one of the following: you local Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Office; Consumer and Corporate Affairs Canada in Hull, Quebec, or the Canadian Home Insulation Program in Montreal; the Ontario Ministry of Labour (did testing in 1981 and 1982 of houses); or your local municipal office. There are a number of laboratories that do various UFFI testing and analysis in Ontario.

Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI) is as contraversial today as it was in December of 1980 when the first temporary ban was put into place. Discussing health concerns and questions are beyond the scope of our expertise; however, we can advise you that there is a great deal of disagreement over UFFI. For every person who disagrees with the ban on UFFI, there is someone who agrees with it. This lack of agreement on UFFI covers a wide spectrum of people and professions - scientists, doctors, chemists, home owners, contractors and the legal profession.

In the Province of Ontario most municipalities will reduce the housing portion of the property taxes by 30% (excluding land and other structures) reflecting the reduced value of the house by the same amount. In the Toronto area, houses with UFFI installed sell at a reduced price, but after it has been removed, the house price reflects the general market conditions in that area.

Subsequent to the ban on UFFI, most Ontario real estate boards and financial institutions have included in legal and financial documents clauses that the Vendor must identify whether the property has, or has ever had UFFI.  An example of such a clause is the following: "The Vendor warrants this home does not or never contained Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI)."

In conlusion Mr. Bremner has had extensive experience in all aspects of the UFFI Asbestos and the Environmental industry. He is available to answer your questions or any furthur information you may require. He can provide expert testimony, and has testified in over 20 cases on UFFI before the Ontario Supreme Court.

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