Johns Manville: First to Make and Market Formaldehyde-Free™ Building Insulation

Over the past few decades, research has continued to demonstrate just how important indoor air quality (IAQ) is for building occupant health and productivity. Poor IAQ can result from a variety of indoor sources, including mold, chemicals such as pesticides, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from furnishings and building materials. These pollutants can result in health issues for building occupants, such as:  irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; headaches and fatigue; or, even respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer.1 According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans, on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors,2 so it’s important to make sure that our indoor air quality is as free from pollutants as possible.

In the past, residential fiberglass batt insulation was manufactured with a formaldehyde-based binder. But growing concern about whether this formaldehyde was off-gassing into the air led JM first to offer niche formaldehyde-free insulation batts for healthcare applications and then later to investigate binder options for its other products. In March of 2002, Johns Manville became the first fiberglass insulation manufacturer to stop using a formaldehyde-based binder in its building insulation and begin using an acrylic binder instead. The new binder eliminated possible concerns about formaldehyde in JM insulation while preserving its high superior thermal and acoustical properties.  JM’s Formaldehyde-Free™ Building Insulation gave people one less thing to worry about.

In June 2002, JM also began manufacturing its Formaldehyde-Free insulation in Canada. The company’s manufacturing plant in Innisfail, Alberta, Canada began fiberglass production using the new formaldehyde-free acrylic binder. By August 2002, JM had converted all its building insulation manufacturing facilities to the formaldehyde-free binder.

In October 2002, the EPA confirmed that Johns Manville’s manufacturing facilities using the formaldehyde-free binder were not subject to the Clean Air Act hazardous air pollutant regulation for the fiberglass insulation industry (40 CFR Part 63, subpart NNN). The Clean Air Act is a federal law that originally went into effect in 1970 to improve air quality by limiting the emission of pollutants such as particulate matter. In 1990, the Act was amended to limit emissions of hazardous air pollutants such as the formaldehyde in binders used in ordinary fiberglass batt insulation. With the switch to the acrylic binder, JM was able to provide data demonstrating that all binder-related formaldehyde emissions had been eliminated.  

By October 2015, every fiberglass insulation company in the United States and Canada had phased out the use of formaldehyde-based binders in residential fiberglass batt insulation products.

JM continues to develop products that help improve air quality. In 2020, Johns Manville was selected by the EPA to receive the 2020 National Green Chemistry Challenge Award, which recognizes companies or individuals who design chemical products and processes that reduce the use of hazardous substances.3  EPA chose to recognize JM for developing a biobased, formaldehyde-free thermoset binder for use in fiberglass reinforcement applications. This technology eliminates the use of hazardous chemicals and reduces water and energy use while producing a finished product with a longer shelf life. Winners of the 2020 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards are selected by an independent panel of technical experts chosen by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute.

Today, JM continues to manufacture a full line of Formaldehyde-Free™ building insulation, including Attic Protector® Blow-In Insulation, Cavity-SHIELD™ Fiberglass, PEBS Blanket™, Canadian UMBI®, Microlite® “L”, ComfortTherm®, Climate Pro® Blow-in, Spider Plus Blow-in and more. JM Formaldehyde-Free™ insulation is available in a wide range of thermal resistance R-values and comes unfaced or with a variety of facings, including kraft, FSK (foil-scrim kraft) or foil, in addition to PSK Basement Wall and Post Frame Insulation.

Learn more about our Formaldehyde-Free™ building insulation by visiting us at: