Technically the Best
Wool, with its unique fiber qualities, is naturally fire resistant. Untreated wool fiber will not support open flame. Oregon Shepherd’s loose fill insulation is treated, just as most insulation products, with a chemical solution to make it even more fire resistant. The difference is that our treatments are not petrochemicals; they are natural chemicals from the earth. Petrochemicals emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s); things like formaldehyde, benzene, and methane; not materials you would like to inhale on a daily basis.
Our chemical treatments do not emit VOC’s, neither in the production process, nor in your home. EPA’s Office of Research and Development’s “Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) Study” (Volumes I through IV, completed in 1985) found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas. TEAM studies indicated that while people are using products containing organic chemicals, they can expose themselves and others to very high pollutant levels, and elevated concentrations can persist in the air long after the activity is completed.
Many consumer products found around the house, such as cleaning solvents, paints, insulation, and wood preservatives from certain furniture all emit VOC compounds, which may contribute to sick building syndrome and other effects such as allergic sensitization or asthmatic symptoms. Due to the high abundant use of VOC-containing products indoors and the high vapor pressure of VOCs, these compounds can easily off-gas into the indoor environment. They also occur in, and are released from, most common indoor materials from natural sources such as trees, animals, and plants as well as from synthetic sources such as petroleum derivatives.
Another unique attribute of wool fiber is what’s referred to as its pliable memory. Other loose insulation products, even other natural materials, will settle over time. This results in a lower insulating section. So while your initial 10 inches of fibrous insulation will provide a value of R-38, it settles to an actual depth of only 8-9 inches, lowering efficiency by up to 20%. Wool fibers’ unique attributes actually cause it to increase in depth over a several month period as its fibers decompress.
Another benefit of this unique quality is that all spaces remain filled, even the tiny cracks and crevices always found in the building materials. The expansion of the material in place will affect a total seal. This total seal is almost impossible to overestimate. Most of the heat loss in the walls and ceilings of the home have more to do with the air seal, rather than the insulation.