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Using Spray Foam Insulation to help address 'Sick Building Syndrome' (Part 1)

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In recent times, the number of ‘sick building syndrome’ affecting buildings and homes has increased. More often than not, we hear from our friends, family and colleagues that the poor indoor air quality within a particular building has had an effect on their health. A lack of concentration, losses in productivity and in graver circumstances the potential of becoming very ill can often be the symptoms people display when in a sick building environment.

Poor indoor air quality is very often the result of mold and mold development which can grow anywhere under the right circumstances. A specific temperature range and a source of food are just some of the specific environmental conditions required for mold to flourish. The most important factor for mold development is moisture.

Entering buildings by a variety of means, moisture can commonly penetrate a building through water infiltration as a result of poor building construction. Water infiltration can be substantial and since the moisture entering is due to gravity or capillary action (which are both very efficient transport mechanisms), there is immediate and noticeable damage. Moisture entering a building in this way can be easily identified and addressed thanks to gravity or capillary action of the moisture.

Another common method of moisture penetration is through air leakage or diffusion. Although less visible and longer to develop, this too can be detrimental to a building since it is not so easy to address. A quick stop-gap solution has typically been to repair the damage by replacing the affected areas rather than getting to the root of the problem. The stop-gap solution is usually due to:

  • A lack of understanding or an inability to determine the cause
  • A lack of suitable materials to address the pre-existing condition
  • High costs involved

Failing to address the root of the cause means that mold development and infestation will occur if the conditions are just right.

With such variables and a need to properly address poor indoor air quality, builders and architects can help minimize the probability of ‘sick building syndrome’ with the right tools such as Icynene spray foam insulation.

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