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Exposing the Myths of Fiberglass

Member for

18 years 5 months
Folks,

People have heard all kinds of stories about fiberglass and it's hazzards. It has been stated:

I mean that cutting fiberglass can be a bit of a health hazard because the fibers, which are a known carcinogen, are released into the air and can be inhaled. Studies have shown that glass fibers from a stationary piece of rigid fiberboard will not be released into the air in significant numbers, especially when the board is covered in fabric, but you should definitely wear gloves and some type of facemask when cutting 705. I'm pretty sure that a paper mask will be enough, but you should definitely double check me on this before you start.
OK,

There have been more than a few questions/statements regarding health issue relating to fiberglass in the past few weeks - and tis time to maybe put the "myths" to rest.

It was reported in the late 80's early 90's about the possibility of fiberglass being a possible carcinogen - and many claims from various sources since then that it actually is.

However the following comes directly from the American Lung Association:

Direct contact with fiberglass materials or exposure to airborne fiberglass dust may irritate the skin, eyes, nose and throat. Fiberglass can cause itching due to mechanical irritation from the fibers. This is not an allergic reaction to the material. Breathing fibers may irritate the airways resulting in coughing and a scratchy throat. Some people are sensitive to the fibers, while others are not. Fiberglass insulation packages display cancer warning labels. These labels are required by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) based on determinations made by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP).

1994- NTP listed fiberglass as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" based on animal data.

1998- The American Conference of Govern- mental Industrial Hygienists reviewed the available literature and concluded glass wool to be "carcinogenic in experimental animals at a relatively high dose, by route(s) of administra- tion, at site(s), of histologic type(s) or by mechanism(s) that are not considered relevant to worker exposures".

1999- OSHA and the manufacturers volunta- rily agreed on ways to control workplace exposures to avoid irritation. As a result, OSHA has stated that it does not intend to regulate exposure to fiberglass insulation. The voluntary agreement, known as the Health & Safety Partnership Program includes a recom- mended exposure level of 1.0 fiber per cubic centimeter (f/cc) based on an 8-hour workday and provides comprehensive work practices.

2000- The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reported that epidemiological studies of glass fiber manufacturing workers indicate "glass fibers do not appear to increase the risk of respiratory system cancer". The NAS supported the exposure limit of 1.0 f/cc that has been the industry recommendation since the early 1990s.

2001- The IARC working group revised their previous classification of glass wool being a possible carcinogen. It is currently considered not classifiable as a human carcinogen. Studies done in the past 15 years since the previous report was released, do not provide enough evidence to link this material to any cancer risk.
Here is the link if you wish to check it out yourself:

http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol81/mono81.pdf

In addition i would point out that the American Cancer Society does not even take the time to reference fiberglass.

The advice given above - protecting both your body and lungs from this product - that makes sense - but the claI'm that the product is a known carcinogen is not recognized by any government agency of any country that i know.

The only claims I know that support the cancer myth are made by fringe groups not recognized by any govt or medical agencies that i am aware of. Apparently without any hard scientific backup to support the claims.

Be safe - be smart - but don't be afraid.

Sincerely,

Rod

Comments

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 01/12/2005 - 10:41
Rod,

I know this was originally posted some time ago, but I hope you see this and reply. It appears that fiberglass, when handled with care, is safe to use, but is there any similar information regarding mineral wool? I know that it is made from slag and other materials as opposed to glass and wonder if there is any need for concern. Irritants are one thing, of course, but carcinogens, etc are quite another. Thanks,

Rick

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 06/22/2005 - 03:55
Thanks for doing the leg work for hundreds of us mate! Nice job!!


I was hoping that you may have come across any reference to Asthma... I've been Asthmatic since a young teenager and am dubious about such materials being in my work space.


If you've seen anything that could stem my fears that would be great... if not I'll have to save up and buy foam!

Member for

18 years 5 months

Rod Gervais Sat, 07/16/2005 - 17:31
lovecow wrote: Rod, et al:

I came across this link in a related thread in another forum. Thought it should be placed here for everyone to have a look-see. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it, Rod!

Hey buddy,

Nice article - and pretty much on-base in 1995 - but not relevant today.........

It seems to me that it would be more honest of these people if they updated their site as time went on. Nope - instead they just continue to spread the same lies.

Did you notice this at the bottom of the article?:

[1] This article was researched and authored by Rachel's Environment and Health Weekly, June 1, 1995 edition and published by the Environmental Research Foundation which provided the research and substance of this article.

I would point out that my data - provided by the American Lung Association is a wee bit more recent than anything referenced in that article.

Note in the article you link to:

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), of the World Health Organization, listed fiber glass as a "probable [human] carcinogen" in 1987

In the one I link to - the same organization states:

2001- The IARC working group revised their previous classification of glass wool being a possible carcinogen. It is currently considered not classifiable as a human carcinogen. Studies done in the past 15 years since the previous report was released, do not provide enough evidence to link this material to any cancer risk.

Amazing what another 14 years of reasearch can provide.

My take on this is that there are still a lot of idiots out there like the people running the Consumer Law Page - that don't exercise anything even close to resembling responsible disemenation of information. If they did - that would not be there anymore - and they would not be helping to spread the "myth" - the lie - that fiberglass is a carcinogen when all the data todaysays that the original claims were incorrect.

Sincerely,

Rod

Member for

18 years 5 months

Rod Gervais Sat, 07/16/2005 - 18:21
Folks,

FWIW, I just sent this email to Rachel.Org, the organization that keeps the data Jeff linked to "alive".

I consider it nothing short of disgusting that this organazation does not post the truth about this product - but would rather post outdated data that has since been proven to be false.

ALL of the health organizations and OSHA changed their tunes once the studies were completed - but organizations like Rachael.org and others just continue to spread the lie - and they do it by not posting the latest data - so if they are confronted they can claim that their information was an accurate portrayal of the information in the studies.

This is a lie by ommission....... and not quite "cricket" in my book.

This is my email:

To whom it may concern,

You (as an organization) should be ashamed of yourselves. I have searched your site - and although I find information relating to fiberglass - it is not up to date - nor is the information accurate.

If you were truly an organization concerned about "environmental justice", you would go out of your way to see to it that once new scientific data proved that earlier research you referred to was incorrect that the new data was posted to keep the people you claim to be concerned with informed.

At the very least you could remove the link to stop the spread of misinformation.

You have this posted in your home page:

Providing understandable scientific information about human health and the environment.

However - what you provide is misinformation - not information. I shall be more than happy to help expose you for what you are really are. Your organization's name will become quite well known in my posts, and my posts reach tens of thousands of people worldwide.

By the way - I am not affiliated with manufacturers of fiberglass products, I own no stock in those companies - and have no vested interest other than the truth in taking the position I am in this regard.

In fact - in the early 1900's I was instrumental in stopping the use of unlined fiberglass ductboard in any of my projects (as well as any projects which I consulted on) due to the potential threat to human life. I take the health of my clients very seriously.

However I also took it upon myself to continue to follow the reasearch and studies being done over the years so as to be able to keep my clients truly informed and thus able to make intelligent informed descisions, descisions based on reality, not descisions based on unfounded fears.

I don't expect you to respond to this - nor do I expect you to remove the data - I think you prefer to continue to help keep the myth about fiberglass alive.

But I assure you that I will now begin including the fact that your organization cannot be trusted as a source for anyone searching for the truth in this (or any other) matter.

Sincerely,

Rod Gervais

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Sat, 07/16/2005 - 20:36
Rod Gervais wrote: ....
In fact - in the early 1900's I was instrumental in stopping the use of unlined fiberglass ductboard in any of my projects (as well as any projects which I consulted on) due to the potential threat to human life. I take the health of my clients very seriously.
..

You don't look that old in your picture!!

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Sun, 07/17/2005 - 07:09
Rod,

That's a powerful reply.
Thanks.

For the people believing that lobbying can alter, misrepresent or suppress data.
Well they are right.

But, there is a big BUT here.
For any m2 or sft of mineral wool that shouldn't be produced anymore caused by a possible cancerogeen character of this fiber, and alternative product should be produced.
This means that the commercial powers supporting both sides of the argument are as strong.

As such this fight is fought.
The end result is clear. The related market came to rest again.

Hence Rod's comment is very clear.
That page is close to sick.
That there were defenders of both sides of the argument is logical. If not those studies should never have taken place.

What's important is the end result of the argument. Only publishing the argument of one side as representative for the topic, certainly in such a sensitive area is cheap, cheaper it can't be.

I've personally been involved and worked in a (huge) market which should be extremely affected by the outcome of this argument.
I've seen prototypes (and hold them including acoustic reports) of alternative insulation and absorption products, preparing to claim their market share.
This is all history now. The prototypes and related R&D are stored in archives.

The health of hundred thousands of employees is involved handling mineral wool on a daily full-time basis. This means that Labor Unions, and accompanying medical organizations are involved.
The studio market is only a fraction FAR beyond the decimal point.

That page that Jeff linked to is sick, wittingly ignoring all contradicting subsequent data.
It's an example how science and honest information should NOT be.

Member for

18 years 5 months

Rod Gervais Sun, 07/17/2005 - 07:30
Paul Woodlock wrote: [quote=Rod Gervais]....
In fact - in the early 1900's I was instrumental in stopping the use of unlined fiberglass ductboard in any of my projects (as well as any projects which I consulted on) due to the potential threat to human life. I take the health of my clients very seriously.
..

You don't look that old in your picture!!
LMAO,

Paul - I meant to say in the late 1900's - goes to show you what lack of sleep coupled with some anger can do.......... :-?

Rod

Member for

18 years 4 months

lovecow Mon, 07/18/2005 - 07:06
Rod,

Perhaps I was not clear: I was just passing on what someone else had found. My own beliefs - based on the scientific research - are of the "non-carcinogen" ilk. I'm glad you responded to them the way you did. That's probably the best reason to have forums like this one. The Internet is chock full of misinformation. The more we are able to have intelligent discourse, the more we can make sure people aren't misled by the lies like these.

Thanks³, Rod!!! 8-)

Member for

18 years 5 months

Rod Gervais Mon, 07/18/2005 - 16:28
lovecow wrote: Rod,

Perhaps I was not clear: I was just passing on what someone else had found. My own beliefs - based on the scientific research - are of the "non-carcinogen" ilk. I'm glad you responded to them the way you did. That's probably the best reason to have forums like this one. The Internet is chock full of misinformation. The more we are able to have intelligent discourse, the more we can make sure people aren't misled by the lies like these.

Jeff,

Yes you were clear - my response was not really directed at you as much as the manner in which these sorts of things are presented by the sites that host them.

The fact is that the vast majority of people will only read enough of it to get the "scoop" never dig deep enough to find out the truth - and THEN they spread the lies as if they were quoting scripture.

It's pathetic.

I would love to know where this thread is so I could join in the discussion.

By the way my friend - thanks for bringing this to my attention........... 8-)

Sincerely,

Rod

Member for

17 years 11 months

z60611 Mon, 07/18/2005 - 18:15
Rod

I would love to know where this thread is so I could join in the discussion.

I didn't find a 'thread', but googling lists blogs, various compeditor companies (e.g. Icynene, betterinsulation), ol recording.org and some have both concepts such as:
from http://blyssabyss.org/wiki/pmwiki.php/BlyssAbyss2005/CloudProps?action=diff
+ Health Risks http://www.safetyline.wa.gov.au/pagebin/hazshazd0006.pdf Excerpt: DOES FIBREGLASS CAUSE CANCER? The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) changed its classification in November 2001: · Fibreglass is now not classifiable as carcinogenic to humans and is no longer considered “possibly carcinogenic The reasons for the change are: · Studies of occupational exposure during manufacture of fiberglass show no evidence of increased risk of cancer; and · There is an increased use of “biosoluble” fiberglass, which has been tested and found to be non-carcinogenic.
http://abrannen.home.mindspring.com/alag/fbrglass.htm

This appears to be a bit old, and is on a legal site, but seems to have useful history and info: http://consumerlawpage.com/article/fiber.shtml

Member for

18 years 5 months

Rod Gervais Wed, 07/27/2005 - 12:04
the dreamer wrote: I just read a short article about mineralwool emitting Formaldehyd into the room when not sealed. It's in german so I suppose it makes no sense to post the link.

They also talk about the risk of cancer which we know is bulls...!

But what abou the Formaldehyd?

Dreamer,

The formaldehyde is used as a binding agent when manufacturing the product. It's generally 1% to 6% of the product by volume.

From a general point of view it isn't a concern - which is why it's reccomended that one wear a dust respirator rather than a gas respirator.

This directly from an MSD Sheet:

Material Safety Data Sheet
Material Name: Mineral Wool Insulation
Page 1 of 7 Issue Date: April 18, 2005 Replaces Issue: January 21, 2004
1. Identification:
1.1 Product Generic Name: Mineral Wool Insulation
1.2 Product Use: Commercial, Industrial and Residential Insulation
1.3 Products:
CavityRockÔ, ConRockÔ, CurtainRockÔ, DrainBoardÔ, EnerWrapÔ, FlexibattÒ, Noise Stop, RHFÔ, RHMÔ,
RHTÔ, ROXUL AFBÔ, ROXULPlusÒ, ROXULÒ 1200, RXLÔ, RWÔ, SAFE, Safe’n’SoundÔ, TechtonÔ 1200,
TechtonÔ 1200 Marine, TopRockÔ P, TopRockÔ F, SturdiRockÔ
1.4 Company Address: Roxul Inc.
551 Harrop Drive
Milton, Ontario
Canada

8.3 Personal Protective Equipment::
8.3.1 Respiratory:
8.3.1.1 General:
If dust levels exceed applicable exposure limits, wear a NIOSH certified dust respirator with an efficiency rating of N95 or higher. Use disposable face masks complying with NIOSH respirator standards, such as a 3M Model 8210 (or 8710) (3M Model 9900 in high humidity environments) or equivalent. For exposures up to five times the established exposure limits use a quarter-mask respirator, rated N95 or higher; and for exposures up to ten times the established exposure limits use a half-mask respirator (e.g. MSA’s DM-11, Racal’s Delta N95, 3M’s 8210), rated N95 or higher. For exposures up to 50 times the established exposure limits use a full-face respirator, rated N99 or higher.

As far as concerns regarding formaldehyde - apparently only upon heating conditions (around 390 degrees +)

10. Stability and Reactivity:
10.1 Stability: Stable
10.2 Reactivity: Not reactive
10.3 Thermal decomposition products:
Primary combustion products of the cured urea extended phenolic formaldehyde binder, when heated above 390 °F (200 °C), are carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ammonia, water and trace amounts of formaldehyde.

Other undetermined compounds could be released in trace quantities. Emission usually only occurs during the first heating. The released gases may be irritating to the eyes, nose and throat during initial heat-up. Use appropriate respirators (air supplied) particularly in tightly confined or poorly ventilated areas during initial
heat-up.

here's the link if you want to see it yourself:

http://www.roxul.com/graphics/rx-na/canada_us/products/msds4-18-05.pdf

I hope that helps,

Rod

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 07/27/2005 - 13:18
Rod, thank you!
In the meantime I had a phonecall with a tech from Isover (big glasswoolmanufacturer). He generally told me the same except thet their products start to gas out at 150°C which is also no Problem.

So I suppose that cheap furniture, artificial carpets and glues are more "outgasing".

Thanks

Member for

16 years 2 months

HockeyMike Tue, 09/27/2005 - 03:56
On the subject of rockwool...

a soundproofing material supplier is recommending using it for insulating inside ventilation systems, including ductwork, to keep sound from reverberating inside. While it's not a carcinogen, I would think it could cause breathing problems in that kind of usage. Any thoughts?

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