Health and safety considerations for energy-efficient renovations

Health and Safety

If you are planning home improvements, you should be aware of the following:

Planning Energy Efficiency Renovations for Your Home

A new publication from Natural Resources Canada entitled Planning Energy Efficiency Renovations for Your Home features useful information on what you should consider when planning energy efficiency renovations, including choosing products, doing the work yourself and hiring a contractor.

Urea-Formaldehyde-Based Foam Insulation (UFFI)

Urea formaldehyde based foam insulation, known as UFFI, was prohibited in Canada in December 1980 under the Hazardous Products Act because it may release formaldehyde gas into indoor air. For more information, read Health Canada’s publication entitled Canadian Prohibition of Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation.


There are several minerals commonly known as asbestos. These minerals can be used to make products strong, long-lasting and fire-resistant. Before 1990, asbestos was mainly used for insulating buildings and homes against cold weather and noise. It was also used for fireproofing. Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause cancer and other diseases. You can be exposed to asbestos when a home or building is being renovated or demolished. For more information, read Health Canada's publication entitled Health Risks of Asbestos.

Vermiculite Insulation

Some vermiculite insulation found in older homes may contain asbestos fibres. There is currently no evidence of risk to human health if the insulation is sealed behind wallboards and floorboards, isolated in an attic, or otherwise kept from exposure to the interior environment. However, it can cause health risks if it is inhaled. For more information visit the Health Canada website.


Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is colourless, odourless and tasteless. It is formed from the radioactive decay of uranium, a natural material found in some soil, rock and groundwater. When radon is released into the outdoor air, it gets diluted to low concentrations and is not a concern. However, in enclosed spaces like houses, it can sometimes accumulate to high levels, which can pose a risk to both your or your family’s health. For more information, visit Health Canada’s website.

Other Health and Safety Considerations

For information on other health and safety considerations when renovating your home, read the Health and Safety Considerations section of the Natural Resources Canada publication entitled Keeping the Heat In.

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