Is it Dangerous to Breathe in Fiberglass Insulation?

Fiberglass insulation is used in many buildings, including homes, schools, offices, and most businesses. It’s designed to insulate the building and keep you safe from the elements. But is it dangerous to breathe in fiberglass insulation?

Breathing in fiberglass insulation can have serious negative effects on your health. It can cause irritation in the nose and throat. Breathing in fiberglass insulation can cause you to cough and even develop asthma, which can be a serious condition that requires medical treatment.

Are you curious about how dangerous it is to breathe in fiberglass insulation and what kind of effect it can have on your health? Read on because our detailed guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about what happens when you breathe in fiberglass insulation.

What is Fiberglass Insulation?

Fiberglass insulation is one of the most popular insulators on the market. It’s often used in buildings because the material is extremely durable and works well to keep out the elements.

Most fiberglass insulation is manufactured as batts or rolls, but it can also be made into a board. It’s an effective insulator and is cheap to make and purchase, which is why it’s so popular.

What is Inside Fiberglass Insulation?

Fiberglass insulation gets its name from the materials used to create it. This insulation is made with a combination of plastic, a liquid binder, and glass fibers.

Fiberglass insulation is made by spinning or blowing molten glass into tiny fibers. These tiny glass fibers are broken down even further. Then, a liquid binder is then added to those fibers, and the ensuing pile is then sent through a curling oven.

The completed product can be cut into the length and width ordered or made into a board.

Is Fiberglass Insulation Toxic?

Fiberglass insulation isn’t classified as toxic because its long-term health effects don’t meet the criteria to label it as a toxic substance. However, it is considered an irritant as direct exposure to this insulation has been documented to cause health problems, such as irritation to the eyes, mouth, nose, and throat.

Asthma has also been recorded as a health problem resulting from working with fiberglass insulation over a long period of time, and is often referred to as construction worker’s asthma.

What Happens if You Breathe in Fiberglass Insulation?

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Breathing in fiberglass insulation can cause problems with all aspects of your respiratory system. Large particles can get trapped in your airway, while smaller particles of fiberglass insulation can make their way into your lungs. It is an irritant and your body will respond to any fiberglass particles you breathe in as it would with other irritants.

Your body will work to expel the particles of fiberglass that you’ve inhaled. You may experience coughing, a runny nose, sneezing, or a sore throat. You’re also likely to experience irritation and itchiness in your nose, mouth, throat, and lungs. It’s bound to feel unpleasant as your body works to repel the irritating particles.

Breathing in fiberglass insulation particles repeatedly, over a long period of time, can cause asthma as the irritant repeatedly damages your respiratory system.

What to Do if You Breathe in Fiberglass Insulation?

If you happen to breathe in fiberglass insulation, then first it’s important not to panic. It will feel uncomfortable, and your body will begin to react in an attempt to get the irritating particles out of your system.

Don’t try to suppress coughs, sneezes, or other reactions your body may go through to try to remove the fiberglass you’ve breathed in. Let yourself cough, and take care of your symptoms as they appear by using a tissue to wipe your nose and cover your mouth and nose while sneezing.

If your symptoms are severe or you’re having trouble breathing, then you should get medical help immediately. Go to your doctor or the nearest walk-in clinic or hospital for treatment.

What are the Symptoms of Fiberglass in the Lungs?

Research on inhaling fiberglass has shown that the effects of fiberglass on the tissues in your lungs are minimal. Currently, the effects of fiberglass getting into the lungs are considered to be similar to that of other common dust irritants. Some of the common symptoms include,

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Temporary tightness or difficulty breathing
  • Temporary wheezing

Where Might You Come Across Fiberglass Insulation? 2 Pack Owens Corning R-13 Pink Kraft Faced Fiberglass Insulation Roll 15 in. x 32 ft. (2)

Fiberglass insulation is commonly used in most residential houses and other buildings. You’re more likely to come across it in walls, attics, crawl spaces, closets, etc. Any unfinished area of a home or building is likely to have exposed insulation.

You’re most likely to come into direct contact with fiberglass insulation in attics and crawl spaces as those are frequently left unfinished. If you come across exposed fiberglass insulation, then it’s important to protect yourself and not touch it with your bare skin.

Is it Dangerous to Get Fiberglass Insulation in Your Eyes?

If fiberglass insulation gets into your eyes, then it can be irritating and painful. Leaving fiberglass insulation in your eyes can cause noticeable redness and irritation for a while, though it will eventually come out.

However, if you think you’ve come into contact with fiberglass insulation and gotten some into your eyes, then it’s important to treat it immediately. Flush your eyes with warm water or use an eyewash station for 15 minutes to remove all the particles.

Is it Dangerous to Get Fiberglass Insulation on Your Skin?

Bare skin coming into contact with fiberglass insulation can be extremely unpleasant, but it shouldn’t cause any negative effects on your health in the long term. Your skin will most likely become red, very itchy, and you may develop a rash.

You should try to remove the glass fibers from your skin as soon as possible after coming into contact with it. Don’t scrub the area as that could drive the fiberglass further into your skin. Instead, gently rinse the area with warm water and mild soap. Then, wipe with a clean cloth.

After washing, you can try using something adhesive that’s safe for your skin, such as medical tape, to pull out the remaining fibers. Simply press the adhesive side down on your skin where the glass fibers are present, give it a moment to set, and then pull the tape away. Any remaining fibers should be pulled out with the tape.

Should You Wear a Mask Around Fiberglass Insulation?

Yes, you should always wear a mask when you’re around exposed fiberglass insulation or if you work with it. Wearing a mask will help protect you from breathing in the glass fibers and will prevent the respiratory problems that can come along with that.

Any type of mask will probably work to keep you safe from breathing in fiberglass insulation. You could even use a piece of cloth to cover your airways. As long as your mouth and nose are covered, you won’t be able to inhale the glass fibers.

Will an N95 Mask Protect Against Fiberglass Insulation? N95 Mask NIOSH Approved 20-Pack, Particulate Respirator N95 Face Masks Universal Fit - Individually Wrapped

An N95 mask will work well to protect you from fiberglass insulation, as well as dust, mist, sanding, and other irritants you may encounter. These masks are durable and worn by most construction workers when handling fiberglass insulation. Always be sure that your mask is on and secured properly so you know that you’re protected against breathing in irritants.

3 Best Mask to Wear When Working Around Fiberglass Insulation

If you’re going to be working around fiberglass insulation, then your health should be your number one priority. Wearing a good mask will help prevent you from breathing in any glass fibers and allow you to finish your work safely.

1. 3M Full Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6900 3M Full Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6900, Paint Vapors, Dust, Mold, Chemicals, Large

This silicone facemask is lightweight, comfortable, and designed to provide you with a steady flow of clean, cool, and dry air. It’s combined with 3M particle filters that will prevent you from breathing in common irritants while working. It’s reusable and easy to clean.

2. 3M Sanding and Fiberglass Respirator 3M 8200HB3-A Sanding and Fiberglass Respirator, 20-Pack

These sanding and fiberglass n95 masks are single-use and able to protect you from breathing in common irritants that you may come across while working. They have an adjustable nose clip for the best comfort and fit.

3. 3M Paint Project Respirator 3M Paint Project Respirator, Medium

This mask is made for workplace and occupational uses. It’s designed to protect you from inhaling solid and liquid aerosols as well as some vapors. This package comes with a single respirator, 1 pair of 6001 cartridges, 1 pair of 501 retainers, and 2 pairs of 5P71 filters.

Final Thoughts

Fiberglass insulation is one of the most common insulations. It’s been classified as an irritant rather than a toxin. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t dangerous to inhale, just that it shouldn’t have any detrimental effects on your health long-term.

Breathing in fiberglass insulation isn’t pleasant, and your body will usually work to expel the particles you’ve inhaled through coughing and sneezing. However, if you have any pressing questions or concerns, then you should seek medical attention at the nearest clinic or hospital.