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Occupational Exposure Risks to Fiberglass and Other Synthetic Vitreous Fibers

Clark Seif Clark provides industrial hygiene testing, consulting and training services to identify exposure hazards and safeguard workers.

Chatsworth, CA – WEBWIRE

Insulation and many building materials containing fiberglass, or other SVFs, can release fibers into the air when they are disturbed.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports there are many workers across the United States that are exposed to fiberglass and other synthetic vitreous fibers (SVFs) in manufacturing and end-use applications.
SVFs are man-made fibrous materials used for thermal and sound insulating purposes and to reinforce other materials. They are found in insulation, roofing shingles, ceiling tiles, textile and fiberglass manufacturing, and weather proofing. These inorganic materials contain aluminum or calcium silicates, and are made from rock or stone, clay, slag or glass.
The three categories of synthetic vitreous fibers include:

  • Glass fibers (fiberglass), including glass wool and continuous filament glass
  • Mineral wool, which contains stone wool and slag wool
  • Refractory ceramic fibers, used to insulate furnaces in lieu of asbestos

“Insulation and many building materials containing fiberglass, or other SVFs, can release fibers into the air when they are disturbed,” said Zahid Iqbal, MPH, CIH and Technical Director at Clark Seif Clark (CSC). “Workers who install or remove insulation, or those involved in building maintenance and repair activities, are some of the occupations with the highest levels of exposure to SVFs. The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) states that when SVFs are suspended in air they can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. If these fibers contact the skin, they may also cause irritation. As far as potential cancer risks are concerned, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that refractory ceramic fibers are possibly carcinogenic to humans. There are published occupational exposure limits for synthetic mineral fibers from OSHA, NIOSH and other state and professional organizations meant to protect workers.”
Workers exposed to SVFs should have training and access to personal protective equipment (PPE). Ventilation and other engineering controls, along with administrative actions, can also be essential for mitigating exposure. Helping companies meet these obligations and maintain regulatory compliance are the industrial hygiene professionals at CSC. Their experts offer onsite inspections, testing, monitoring, training and consulting services for SVFs and a wide range of chemical, microbial and radiological hazards. CSC has even sponsored an educational video about SVFs and potential exposure risks that can be seen at:   
To learn more about this or other occupational, indoor environmental quality, health and safety services, please visit, email or call (800) 807-1118. 
About Clark Seif Clark
CSC was established in 1989 to help clients in both public and private sectors address indoor air quality, occupational, environmental, and health and safety (EH&S) issues. CSC is a leading provider of these services with multiple offices along the western seaboard and southwest. The company believes in science-based protocols and has a strong background in engineering, making them the preferred environmental consultants to industrial clients, healthcare facilities, architects, schools, builders, contractors, developers and real estate professionals.

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 Industrial Hygiene
 Occupational Health

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