At least one major home insulation manufacturer is considering legal action to block the airing of public service television commercials produced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission warning of the dangers of improper installation of home insulation.
A spokesman for Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp., one of the largest home insulation manufacturers, said his firm is "studying the possibility of trying to get a restraining order" to prevent the showing of the commercial.
The CPSC has scheduled some 800 television spots of both 60-and 30-second duration, beginning later this month.
The TV commercial shows a masked man entering an attic with a flashlight.
"This man is about to commit a crime," an announcer says. "He is not going to use a gun, a bomb or a knife. He is going to do it with his own two hands."
Then the man is shown cutting pieces from a roll of home insulation and wrapping it around a ventilation pipe.
". . . His hands are transforming soft protective insulation into a dangerous weapon," the announcer continues. "All because he doesn't know how to install it. He's covering the air vents in his attic with it. He's packing it up against a hot exhaust flue." The commercial proceeds to warn of the danger of fire because of the improper insulation installation.
In a meeting with CPSC officials on Wednesday, representatives of the home insulation industry urged that the television commercials and related radio spots, be withheld because they reportedly contained errors.
In a follow-up Stanley L. Matthews, president of the National Mineral Wool Insulation Association, a trade organization, warned that the commercials "contain technical inaccuracies and misrepresentations of fact which would be damaging to our industry and so misleading to the consumer as to curtail the current national effort to reinsulate homes and conserve energy."
Matthews asked the safety agency to "take immediate steps to prevent the airing of these radio and TV scripts," until the commission makes changes in the scripts.
At a special meeting yesterday afternoon, the commission voted 3 to 1, with new member Susan King dissenting, to pull back some 3,000 radio spots that had already been sent to stations.
The radio spots contained such phrases as "one spark can turn your home into just another statistic," and descriptions of home insulation as a "dangerous weapon," and "killer."
But the agency voted unanimously to let the TV commercials go out as they are.
NMWIA attorney Adrian May said his group had "no problem" with the idea of commercial designed to encourage safe installation of home insulation. "But they shouldn't get people thinking that all attic insulation is a time-bomb ticking and ready to explode into a fire at any time," he said.
Matthews' letter claimed, among other things, that "covering air vents is not a known hazard to residential buildings, certainly not a fire hazard."
But CPSC spokesman Richard Brazie said the commission disagreed, believing instead that covering air vents with insulation causes moisture to build up in the attic and results in corrosion of wiring.
Two other major insulation manufacturers, Johns-Manville Corp. and Certain-Teed Corp. are also reportedly considering legal action to block the commercials.