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Fiberglass

What is Fiberglass?

Where is Fiberglass Commonly Found? Fiberglass is a material composed of small strands of glass. The most common form is known as glass wool which is very fine strands used as a form of insulation in walls, ceilings, ventilation and HVAC systems. Fiberglass insulation has widely replaced asbestos insulation due to the known harmful nature of the latter product when exposed and dislodged.

Health Effects

How Can Fiberglass Be Harmful and Dangerous? Although fiberglass has not been classified as a carcinogen, its medical effects to people are still substantial. Fiberglass is recognized as an irritant to the skin, eyes, and upper respiratory system. Common side effects from large quantities of exposure include rashes, sinus headaches, coughing, and conjunctivitis.

Although fiberglass was thought to be a "safe" substitute for asbestos, researchers later found that it too was associated with the risk of lung cancer and lung disease. Fiberglass is one of a group of products known as man-made mineral fibers or man-made vitreous fibers. They are generally divided into three groups: Fibrous glass, mineral wool (i.e., slag wool and rock wool), and ceramic fibers.

Common fiberglass insulation inside air ducts when exposed can be harmful. If the material breaks down with age, water damage, or constant traffic where located the fibers can become dislodged and flow through the duct system into various rooms of your property. If water damaged, fiberglass insulation can also harbor mold growth.

Inspection & Testing

Fiberglass Testing - Both air and surfaces can be tested to determine if fiberglass is present. If you suspect fiberglass to be present in either your air or collected on building materials, testing is recommended to determine if a health hazard exists. If a fiberglass problem is suspected due to adverse health effects experienced by occupants, JLM Environmental can provide air quality testing to see if fibers are found in the air, locate the source, and execute a report with recommendations for the repair. If fiberglass contamination is heavily found throughout the air, HEPA air filtration systems may need to be employed to filter the air.

Regulations & Resources

Learn More About Fiberglass:

OSHA Health and Safety

OSHA treats fiberglass as a nuisance dust and has set the permissible exposure limit at 5.0 mg/m3 for respirable dust and 15.0 mg/m3. Manufacturers have been recommending an exposure limit of 1 fiber/cm3.

Quick Facts

  • Fiberglass is a material composed of small strands of glass.
  • Fiberglass is an irritant to the skin, eyes, and upper respiratory system.
  • Side effects include rashes, sinus headaches, coughing, and conjunctivitis.
  • The most common form is found in insulation of walls, ceilings, and ventilation systems.
  • Fiberglass can be dislodged with age, water damage, or natural disasters such as earthquakes.
  • When water damaged, fiberglass can harbor mold growth.
  • Air quality testing can be performed to determine if fibers are found in the air.
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