HC Deb 19 October 1982 vol 29 cc104-5W
Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the use of urea-formaldehyde foam for cavity wall insulation and on the representation he has received from the Salford city council.

Sir George Young:

My hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction summarised my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's views in his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine) on 8 June.—[Vol. 25, c.33.]

Since then the advisory committee on the carcinogenicity of chemicals in food, consumer products and the environment has examined details of available research on the effect of formaldehyde on animals and man, and has confirmed that levels of formaldehyde gas expected as a result of UF foam insulation have not been shown to carry any long-term effects on human health. In particular, in its view there is no evidence that formaldehyde gas causes cancer in man.

It is most important that both the insulation itself and the construction of the buildings in which it is installed conform to the British Standards 5617 and 5618. The British Standards Institution will shortly be issuing an amendment to the code of practice which will strengthen the requirements for prior inspection and indicate that certain types of construction should normally be regarded as unsuitable for this form of insulation. My Department also proposes to amend the building regulations to ensure their application to all insulants in all forms of cavity construction. Urea-formaldehyde is the cheapest of a number of insulants for filling cavities whose use is permitted under the type relaxation of the building regulations.