Question? Just ask us!
Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
InspectAPedia ® Home
ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS - INSPECT, TEST, REMEDY
AIR CLEANER PURIFIER TYPES
AIR FILTER EFFICIENCY
AIR FILTERS for HVAC SYSTEMS
AIR HANDLER / BLOWER UNITS
AIR LEAK DETECTION TOOLS
AIR LEAK SEALING PROCEDURE
AIR POLLUTANTS, COMMON INDOOR
AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT STRATEGIES
AIR SEALING STRATEGIES
ALLERGEN TESTS for BUILDINGS
ALLERGY TESTS for PEOPLE
ANIMAL ALLERGENS / PET DANDER
ANIMAL ODORS IN BUILDINGS
ASBESTOS-FREE INSULATION MATERIALS
ASBESTOS IDENTIFICATION IN BUILDINGS
ATTORNEYS and EXPERT WITNESSES
BIBLIOGAPHY ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, MOLD, IAQ
BLOWER DOORS & AIR INFILTRATION
BLOWER FAN OPERATION & TESTING
BOOKSTORE - ENVIRONMENTAL
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPET DUST IDENTIFICATION
CARPET MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPETING & INDOOR AIR QUALITY
CAT DANDER in BUILDINGS
CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR
COMBUSTION GASES & PARTICLE HAZARDS
CONDENSATION or SWEATING PIPES, TANKS
CPSC Indoor Air Pollution Book Online Copy
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
EMF RF FIELD & FREQUENCY DEFINITIONS
EMERGENCY RESPONSE, IAQ, GAS, MOLD
EMF ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS & HUMAN EXPOSURE
Fiberboard Insulation Sheathing Mold
FIBERGLASS DUCT, RIGID CONSTRUCTION
FIBERGLASS INSULATION IDENTIFICATION
FIREPLACES & WOODSTOVES CONTAMINANTS
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOODS IN BUILDINGS-mold
FLOORING MATERIALS, Age, Types
FORMALDEHYDE GAS HAZARD REDUCTION
GAS DETECTION INSTRUMENTS
GAS EXPOSURE EFFECTS, TOXIC
HOME HEATING SAFETY
HUMIDITY CONTROL & TARGETS INDOORS
HOUSE DUST ANALYSIS
HOUSE DUST COMPONENTS
INDOOR AIR QUALITY & HOUSE TIGHTNESS
INDOOR AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT GUIDE
ASBESTOS INSULATION on PIPES
Insulation Air & Heat Leaks
INSULATION FACT SHEET- DOE
INSULATION IDENTIFICATION GUIDE
INSULATION INSPECTION & IMPROVEMENT
INSULATION MOLD RESISTANCE of FOAM
INSULATION, UFFI UREA FORMALDEHYDE FOAM
LIGHT, GUIDE to FORENSIC USE
LEED Building Designation & IAQ
MILDEW REMOVAL & PREVENTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD ACTION GUIDE - WHAT TO DO ABOUT MOLD
MOLD APPEARANCE - WHAT MOLD LOOKS LIKE
MOLD APPEARANCE - STUFF THAT IS NOT MOLD
MOLD CLEANUP GUIDE- HOW TO GET RID OF MOLD
MOLD or INDOOR AIR EMERGENCY RESPONSE
MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE
MOLD GROWTH on SURFACES, TABLE OF
MOLD GROWTH in/on BUILDING INSULATION
MOLD TESTING METHOD VALIDITY
MOLD TESTING SERVICES
MSDS Material Safety Data Sheets
MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
MYCOPHOBIA, STAINS MISTAKEN for MOLD
MYCOTOXIN EFFECTS of MOLD EXPOSURE
Museum Artifact Preservation
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
OIL TANKS INSPECT LEAK TEST ABANDON REGS
OZONE for MOLD OR ODORS
PARTICLE SIZES & IAQ
Particulates & Allergens Indoors
RADON HAZARD TESTS & MITIGATION
SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
SICK HOUSE IAQ QUESTIONNAIRE
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
SOUND CONTROL in BUILDINGS
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING EXTERIORS
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING INTERIORS
THERMAL TRACKING & HEAT LOSS
UFFI UREA FORMALDEHYDE FOAM INSULATION
URETHANE FOAM Deterioration, Outgassing
VAPOR BARRIERS & AIR SEALING at BAND JOISTS
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION in BUILDINGS
VAPOR BARRIERS & HOUSEWRAP
VAPOR CONDENSATION & BUILDING SHEATHING
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
VINYL Siding or PLASTIC Window ODORS
Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WORLD TRADE CENTER 9-11 DUST PHOTOS
Airborne fiberglass dust hazards & the role of particle size in particle detection as well as in health risk assessment: this article provides information about fiberglass fragments and indoor air quality fiberglass contamination issues in residential and light-commercial buildings.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
Also see Fiberglass Detection in Building Air for a discussion of the role of particle size in fiberglass detection in building air and dust samples. Also see Fiberglass Insulation Exposure Limits and see PARTICLE SIZES & IAQ.
A Guide to Large versus Very Small Fiberglass Fragments in Building Dust
In our page top photo of fiberglass insulation fragments collected in an indoor air sample, you can see not only a large and typical fiberglass insulation strand with its characteristic colored resin binder. You can also spot much smaller fiberglass fragments.
When a forensic laboratory is asked to screen dust or air samples for fiberglass, depending on the lab's protocols it's not certain that fibers of both large dimension and small fiber fragments will both be reported.
Small glass fiber fragments are easily "lost" in other non-fungal granular debris in building dust. We posit that studies of the level of airborne fiberglass in buildings may be faulty if the methods used to screen for fiberglass fragments do not include small, even sub-micron particles along with the common large particles.
Most buildings Probably have Mostly Large Fiberglass Fragments - Some Have Sub-Micron Fragments of Fiberglass Dust
Our field and lab experience suggest that while we find fiberglass in nearly all modern indoor environmental dust, the common particles are usually long and large (and presumed less of a health risk than very small particles).
However in environments where fiberglass insulation is old, damaged by foot traffic, handling, pests such as mice, or where it was chopped or disturbed, on occasion we find high levels of very small, even sub-micron fiberglass particles.
We may also find an elevated level of small fiberglass insulation fragments in buildings or in the HVAC system of buildings where fiberglass-lined HVAC ductwork has been mechanically cleaned - a process that can loosen and damage the fiberglass liner. We have also found high levels of fiberglass fragments in indoor air and dust in buildings where amateur do-it-yourself return air ducts were constructed using conventional fiberglass insulating batts as a "duct" liner (photo, above-left).
Therefore a first level of inspection for this hazard starts with the age of the building and the visual determination of the condition of its insulation.
Fiberglass fragments are inorganic material typically from fiberglass insulation; depending on their size and quantity these may be a respiratory irritant or may contribute to more serious health concerns.
The presence of incidental fibers in buildings is common. The Association of Man-made Mineral Fiber Producers asserted to the US EPA in 1992 that a study at that time " does not provide evidence of significant adverse health effects following inhalation of glass fiber." ("Respirable Fibrous Glass Chronic Multidose Inhalation Study-Preliminary Final Results," TIMA, 4 May 1992 delivered to U.S. EPA by hand.) The Seventh Annual Report on Carcinogens (June 1994) lists glass fibers of respirable size as a substance "reasonably anticipated to cause cancer in humans."
DJF Opinion: Caution about fiberglass fragment size: when reading studies about airborne fiberglass, pay close attention to the methods used to collect samples and the methods used to identify and count fiberglass particle fragments. For example, some counting devices or microscopic methods exclude all particles below a give size by the choice of instrument or counting method itself. See Lab Identification of Fiberglass for details.
Deciding not to look for very small particles (which if present may be the more harmful ones) or using a methodology that excludes them means that study is not going to find them even if they in fact were dominant by number or even total volume in a sample.
It is possible that small fiberglass particles in air may constitute a meaningful health risk (obviously depending on the overall exposure level) which has not been explored. It seems reasonable to me to suggest that that prudent avoidance of fiberglass dust would be appropriate. Improper cleaning or treatment of fiberglass ducts with biocides and particularly, mechanical cleaning that can damage the fiberglass lining HVAC ducts may in fact increase rather than decrease indoor air quality problems in a building, particularly if occupants have other respiratory or pulmonary concerns/vulnerabilities.
See Glass Wool Fibers Expert Panel Report, Part B - Recommendation for Listing Status for Glass Wool Fibers and Scientific Justification for the Recommendation" for a 2009 update on the carcinogenicity of fiberglass fragments.
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
No FAQs have been posted for this page. Try the search box below or CONTACT US by email if you cannot find the answer you need at InspectApedia.
Questions & answers or comments about fiberglass contamination indoors: what is the role of particle size in the detection of airborne fiberglass in dust samples? What is the role of particle size in health hazards from airborne fiberglass or other particulates? .
Ask a Question or Enter Search Terms in the InspectApedia search box just below.
Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.