Fiberglass is a type of fiber-reinforced manmade material embedded with glass fibers. Though it’s widely used in the automobiles, household appliances, it’s commonly used for thermal insulation and sound absorption of walls and pipes in almost every home. While generally harmless from afar, it can be an intense skin irritant and, if inhaled, a severe respiratory irritant.
Commonly used in the majority of homes is fiberglass insulation, a type of wooly material made with glass fibers, in the construction in order to regulate temperature in homes. After installation, fiberglass is usually not a problem to the home unless disrupted. Home exposure varies depending on the home environment and air flow conditions. Anytime fiberglass is cut or trimmed it can be exposed indoors, tiny glass fibers can become airborne and cause irritation of the skin, eyes and respiratory tract.
People that are more susceptible to being affected by fiberglass irritation are those living in older homes where air circulation moves more readily than newer homes. Those with compromised ductwork leaves the home vulnerable to the fiberglass particles being distributed through the duct system.
Itchy, flaky skin
Skin rash and blisters
Short-term exposure can cause itching of the eyes and skin, often referred to as “fiberglass itch” and disappears within a few hours. Prolonged fiberglass exposure causes tiny fibers to become embedded in the lung tissue and upper respiratory system. This can cause trouble breathing and exacerbate asthma symptoms.
The best way to control glass fiber allergies is to avoid coming into contact with fiberglass as much as possible.
- Patch holes where insulation is visible
- Avoid living in spaces that are being remodeled
- Clean up fiberglass particulates where it tends to collect
- Wear a mask, gloves, pants and long sleeves when handling or cleaning up fiberglass at any time
- Increase ventilation in the space by opening doors or windows
- After exposure, wash with soap and water
- Check and replace air filters monthly
- Immediately wash exposed clothing