Fiberglass insulation hazard to lungs » Mayo Clinic Connect (2024)

Posted by meghan13 @meghan13, Sep 7, 2023

Has anyone heard of how harmful fiberglass insulation is to our lungs? I just watched this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSJjipaPxUE

I have a basem*nt with open insulation in the ceiling, and it's old and I want to have it removed because of the risk, but then removal is also really tricky in my area and I'm concerned that may just lead to more fibers in the air.

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Sue, Volunteer Mentor | @sueinmn | Sep 7, 2023

@meghan13 I just watched the video, and drew a slightly different conclusion.

Unlike asbestos, fiberglass and rock wool insulation have been determined to be not permanently harmful because the macrophages in the lungs are able to break them down and carry them away within about 10 days.
Yes, people with sensitive lungs can be bothered and they should limit contact.
Yes, constant and concentrated exposure can be problematic. Fiberglass workers wear respirators and goggles, long sleeves and gloves to protect from overexposure.

The safety agencies have determined that undisturbed fiberglass insulation is safe, but I understand your concern with the uncovered older insulation in your home.
The photo of your insulation looks to me like rock wool, another product altogether. That is or can be irritating to skin, but is safer than fiberglass.
In either case, you can staple builders plastic or other sheathing to the floor joists to cover the exposed insulation. This would be much easier than and safer than replacement. Just be sure whoever does it wears protection, and disturbs the insulation as little as possible. And vacuum thoroughly afterward, while masked, to get rid of any resulting dust.

In the list of risks, unless you spend a lot of time in the basem*nt while people are upstairs and shaking insulation dust loose, I would consider you low on the list.
Sue

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meghan13 | @meghan13 | Sep 8, 2023

In reply to @sueinmn "@meghan13 I just watched the video, and drew a slightly different conclusion. Unlike asbestos, fiberglass and..." + (show)

Fiberglass insulation hazard to lungs » Mayo Clinic Connect (12) @sueinmn

@meghan13 I just watched the video, and drew a slightly different conclusion.

Unlike asbestos, fiberglass and rock wool insulation have been determined to be not permanently harmful because the macrophages in the lungs are able to break them down and carry them away within about 10 days.
Yes, people with sensitive lungs can be bothered and they should limit contact.
Yes, constant and concentrated exposure can be problematic. Fiberglass workers wear respirators and goggles, long sleeves and gloves to protect from overexposure.

The safety agencies have determined that undisturbed fiberglass insulation is safe, but I understand your concern with the uncovered older insulation in your home.
The photo of your insulation looks to me like rock wool, another product altogether. That is or can be irritating to skin, but is safer than fiberglass.
In either case, you can staple builders plastic or other sheathing to the floor joists to cover the exposed insulation. This would be much easier than and safer than replacement. Just be sure whoever does it wears protection, and disturbs the insulation as little as possible. And vacuum thoroughly afterward, while masked, to get rid of any resulting dust.

In the list of risks, unless you spend a lot of time in the basem*nt while people are upstairs and shaking insulation dust loose, I would consider you low on the list.
Sue

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Sue, Thank you so much for this detailed response. You just saved me a ton of money in trying to solve for this. I wasn’t sure if this was wool vs fiberglass. And now that I’ve watched the YouTube video more in depth I see that the speaker basically says it’s safe.

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Rick | @rstel7272 | Sep 8, 2023

The insulation is best left undisturbed. If it is, then wear a respirator or move out for a while. Add air purifiers to your home in any case.

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eastphoenix | @eastphoenix | Jan 25 3:56am

Appreciate the knowledge pertaining to terminology etc but Glass is made of silica and silica is toxic as he stated in the beginning. Additionally the wording was ."known"to California? Also they only say "does not "cause" cancer. I suppose never mind all the other health risk associated with these products . Additionally the risk increases depending on amount of exposure. Safety clothing, wearing Tyvek in a factory? Temps range 70- 98°. Wear Tyvek in 85° for 10 hours. Safety mask 10 hours.the sweat attaches the glass to skin, eye wear? Fogging up lens pay attention safety first oh & production. Finally these materials play a major part in multi billion $ business = tax revenue state/fed. I sense big business said "hey scientist you make it work" and government deregulated. That's good eh? As individuals our health is no 1 ,do the research . I have experience working in fiber glass. I just basically think that the real issue is the fiber glass can tear the lining of the lungs, in fact I don't even know this scientifically. However I can say that I feel that our bodies tell us when something isn't right and if fiber glass can do what it does to my skin, their is really nothing any one can say that will persuade me to think that our society can't live without it. This isn't to say that I haven't seen it's uses in a wide variety of products because I have I am only saying that I think their are safer products capable of providing equal benefits I am also saying I think society would still exist without fiber glass. Uncertain of its decomposition duration I am uncertain of the affect it has on our planet either.

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Sue, Volunteer Mentor | @sueinmn | Jan 25 9:40am

In reply to @eastphoenix "Appreciate the knowledge pertaining to terminology etc but Glass is made of silica and silica is..." + (show)

Fiberglass insulation hazard to lungs » Mayo Clinic Connect (25) @eastphoenix

Appreciate the knowledge pertaining to terminology etc but Glass is made of silica and silica is toxic as he stated in the beginning. Additionally the wording was ."known"to California? Also they only say "does not "cause" cancer. I suppose never mind all the other health risk associated with these products . Additionally the risk increases depending on amount of exposure. Safety clothing, wearing Tyvek in a factory? Temps range 70- 98°. Wear Tyvek in 85° for 10 hours. Safety mask 10 hours.the sweat attaches the glass to skin, eye wear? Fogging up lens pay attention safety first oh & production. Finally these materials play a major part in multi billion $ business = tax revenue state/fed. I sense big business said "hey scientist you make it work" and government deregulated. That's good eh? As individuals our health is no 1 ,do the research . I have experience working in fiber glass. I just basically think that the real issue is the fiber glass can tear the lining of the lungs, in fact I don't even know this scientifically. However I can say that I feel that our bodies tell us when something isn't right and if fiber glass can do what it does to my skin, their is really nothing any one can say that will persuade me to think that our society can't live without it. This isn't to say that I haven't seen it's uses in a wide variety of products because I have I am only saying that I think their are safer products capable of providing equal benefits I am also saying I think society would still exist without fiber glass. Uncertain of its decomposition duration I am uncertain of the affect it has on our planet either.

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Hello, and welcome to Connect. It sounds like you have some experience working with fiberglass, and we are in agreement that adequate protective gear is essential when exposed to it.
Did you have a medical issue that lead you to our lung support group?
Sue

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mcalary | @mcalary | Mar 27 3:17pm

I’ve dealt with fiberglass insulation and rockwool a lot, and I would definitely advise you wear long sleeves if you have irritable skin, roxul (or rockwool) can also have little shards of glass in it that can be sharp enough to cut you. (Like a paper cut) so gloves wouldn’t hurt. BUT ABOVE ALL: Take a COLD shower afterwords, most important part, if you take a shower warm enough to open your pores up, then the dust will get in them and be extremely irritating.. same with sweating, to me that’s the highest risk, fans do not help, it just makes the dust go everywhere, if your just taking them out and not cutting them dust shouldn’t be too high, but if it’s really old it could definitely turn to dust pretty easy just by touching it

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