Working safely with fibrous glass

February 1, 2013

Fibrous glass is a synthetic mineral fiber made from glass. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two types exist: continuous filament glass and glass wool. Continuous filament glass is used to make fiberglass fabrics that reinforce plastics, foams and other materials. Glass wool is the main material in fiberglass insulation, which is widely used in the construction of houses and work buildings.

According to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, exposure to fibrous glass can have both short- and long-term health consequences. Short-term effects include eye and skin irritation, nose and throat irritation, and bleeding from the nose. Long-term effects are not as clear.

The department lists the following examples of good work practices to help reduce fibrous glass exposure:

  • Workers whose clothes have been contaminated by fibrous glass should change into clean clothes immediately. Do not take any contaminated work clothes home, and only allow individuals who know the hazards of this manufactured fiber to launder the clothes.
  • If the possibility of skin exposure exists, emergency shower facilities should be provided.
  • If skin contact occurs, immediately wash or shower to remove the chemical.
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke in an area where fibrous glass is handled.
  • To reduce dust, use a vacuum or wet method. Do not dry sweep.