Fiberglass is termed as a plastic substance comprising of small glass particles extruded in to thin material strands that reinforce polymer products or insulate them. Across America, fiberglass is commonly known as the pink, fluffy material that looks like cotton candy and is utilized for insulation purposes in nearly 90% of buildings across the country.
In the 20th Century when health concerns rose about asbestos steering its wide ban and disregard as an insulator in several countries worldwide, the manufacturing of fiberglass steadily grew and its use replaced asbestos in various applications. And now, with great quantities of fiberglass insulation countrywide, many health concerns are raised regarding its possible health hazards.
A closer look at fiberglass as an insulation material
What constitutes fiberglass? Fiberglass is a synthetic substance. It comprises of a plastic matrix that is usually made of a thermosetting polymer like epoxy, thermoplastic, among others. Glass fibers reinforce this matrix.
The central material of the glass fibers is silica; a kind of silicon oxide polymer that has no melting point is widely used because of its hard nature. Silica is mostly in sand or quartz and is utilized to manufacture several types of glass as well as optical fibers. There are different types of fiberglass that are categorized depending on their chemical make-up. Fiberglass gratings is an important aspect that can’t be ignored.
Fiberglass insulation usually comes in blanket or loose-fill format. It can be available as a rigid board and as a duct insulator. Fiberglass insulation is relatively cheap and simple to install.
Is fiberglass a health hazard?
The state of California necessitates demands that fiberglass be labeled as a possible cancer-causing agent. Once fiberglass fragments are drawn in and positioned in the small air sacs of your lungs, the alveoli keep opened and then capture the speks. The speks are inhibited from the alveoli creating a fast clearance of fiberglass dust pieces from your lungs.
But, fiberglass poses other health problems like eye, skin, or respiratory tract irritation. The fiber’s mechanical action of scraping against the skin may trigger a condition called dermatitis. Practice safety measures against fiberglass by wearing long-sleeved shirts, and long pants to protect your skin surface from fibers and wear clean clothes daily. Do not forget to put on gloves as well as eye protection.
Utilize soap and warm water to get off any fibers from your skin. Always wear a dust mask when in areas where chopper guns are used or wherever fiberglass ratings are high to avoid inhaling glass fibers. The central hazard linked with fiberglass is the chemicals utilized during the fabrication procedure. Cobalt compounds usually utilized as accelerators can lead to allergic dermatitis. Acetone depresses your nervous system and is used in several tools, utensils, as well as equipment.
Always remember that these chemicals can make flammable or explosive concentrations at ordinary room temperatures. Handle such chemicals with the most care and protect your body from contacting them. Open your doors and windows to increase ventilation and aeration and minimize the fiber dust levels. Utilize a shop vacuum after wetting the dust and fibers.
What are the alternatives to fiberglass insulation?
Whereas fiberglass can be safe to you if handled with care, there are some alternative eco-friendly insulation options available. Such options include soy-based materials like wool, foam, hemp in addition to recycled denim. Even if these alternatives are on low demand, their use is suspected to rise. There are few alternative insulation suppliers making it hard to obtain these materials in many markets.
But, as consumer tastes and preferences for eco-friendly alternatives, the demand for green products is steadily increasing and soon more suppliers may choose to give more resources to the go-green trend and reduce the production costs.
Fiberglass is the common name for man-made fiber. In daily life, fiberglass is used to insulate pipes as well as appliances; it is useful in sound control in airplanes and automobiles. Even if fiberglass is dangerous to human life, there are several measures that can be implemented to reduce exposure after a person has come in contact with fiberglass. People should practice safety measures like flushing their eyes with a lot of clean water in case they come close to fiberglass.