Comparison of health of occupants and characteristics of houses among control homes and homes insulated with urea formaldehyde foam. II. Initial health and house variables and exposure-response relationships

Environ Res. 1988 Apr;45(2):156-78. doi: 10.1016/s0013-9351(88)80045-8.


A health survey was conducted on 1726 occupants of urea formaldehyde foam insulated (UFFI) houses and 720 residents of control homes. The occupants of the UFFI houses showed a modest excess of many symptoms relative to the controls. This excess of complaints was contributed mainly by the residents of households which were intending to have their UFFI removed and by onsets which followed the installation of UFFI. There were no associated abnormalities in nasal airway resistance, sense of smell, pulmonary function, or patch tests for allergy to formaldehyde. However, the UFFI subjects intending to have their UFFI removed demonstrated a small increase in nasal epithelial squamous metaplasia. The indoor formaldehyde levels of the UFFI houses were about 20% higher than in the controls, while the carbon dioxide levels were similar in both groups. The UFFI subjects showed positive relationships between level of formaldehyde exposure and the presence of a number of symptoms, which were largely dependent on a small group of formaldehyde values that were in excess of 0.12 ppm. A number of the exposure-response relationships were enhanced by UFFI. These results suggested that some adverse health effects of UFFI were explained by formaldehyde alone while others were related to the combined effects of formaldehyde and an additional UFFI-related factor(s) which was not identified.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis
  • Construction Materials*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Formaldehyde* / adverse effects
  • Formaldehyde* / analysis
  • Health Status*
  • Health*
  • Housing*
  • Humans
  • Reference Values
  • Urea* / adverse effects


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Formaldehyde
  • urea formaldehyde foam
  • Urea