What Happens if You Inhale Fiberglass?

What Happens If You Inhale Fiberglass?

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Fiberglass has been used for decades. At first glance, it looks harmless. With it’s fluffy and soft appearance, many are unaware of its negative health effects.

What is Fiberglass?

Fiberglass is an insulation material commonly used in the construction industry. Since it can slow the spread of heat, noise, and cold, you’ll see it used to insulate anything from home insulation to plastic reinforcement.

Why is Fiberglass Dangerous?

Fiberglass particles are released into the air when fiberglass is disturbed or damaged. These fibers irritate your skin, eyes, and upper respiratory tract. A person exposed to fiberglass may develop a rash if the fibers become embedded in the skin. Eyes may become red and irritated. If swallowed, stomach irritation can occur.

How Might I Be Exposed to Fiberglass?

There are two ways that a person can be exposed to fiberglass:

  1. Occupational Exposure. People are generally exposed to fiberglass through breathing, skin contact, or ingesting the fibers. Workers who remove or install fiberglass during building maintenance or repair are most likely to inhale these fibers. They are encouraged to wear protective gear such as gloves, safety goggles, and particle respirators.  
  2. Non-occupational Exposure. Non-occupational exposure can occur at your home, school, or office. While you may not be directly moved or disturbing fiberglass, these fibers can be carried by the airflow in a building or room.

After the initial installation, exposure to fiberglass is rare unless the fiberglass is disturbed. One of the best ways to avoid exposure is to avoid contact with insulation material in the walls.

What Happens in Your Body When You Inhale Fiberglass

Depending on the fiber size and extent of exposure, the effects of inhaling fiberglass can vary. When inhaled, large fibers can become trapped in your upper airway, with smaller fibers traveling down into the lungs. Fibers in the upper airway are removed through coughing, sneezing, or other body defense mechanisms. 

Fiberglass that makes it to your lungs may remain in your lungs and thoracic region. While low levels of exposure will result in irritation, inhaling high levels of airborne fiberglass can cause bronchitis-like conditions. People with asthma may notice their symptoms worsening upon inhalation and can even result in an asthma attack.  

Most symptoms of exposure are limited to irritation to the eyes, nose, skin, and throat. You can combat the levels of exposure by flushing eyes with water and washing exposed skin with soap to remove any fibers. 

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If you suspect that your indoor air has been contaminated, scheduling an indoor air quality test is the first step to clean air. Our professional air quality tests will reveal what pollutants are in your home, and we will work with you to find a practical solution. Reach out to request a quote by filling out our online contact form. A member of our team will be in contact with you within one business day.

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