Fiberglass insulation & health risks

Updated February 21, 2017

Fibreglass insulation is a type of construction material made of glass fibre that has several applications. It's used in residential and commercial insulation, and also in boat hulls, roofing, automobile bodies, tent poles and shower curtains. Aside from its many uses, however, fibreglass insulation carries certain health risks you should be aware of.

Skin Irritation

Fibreglass insulation is composed of millions of tiny fibres of glass, and one simple tap on it expels thousands of these fibres into the air. Having direct contact with these fibres can irritate the skin, eyes, nose and throat. If you must handle the fibreglass during its installation, be sure to wear a long-sleeved shirt, gloves, goggles and trousers. It's also highly recommended, after handling fibreglass insulation, that you avoid scratching your skin and eyes and avoid running until you've thoroughly washed.

Lung Problems

Whenever fibreglass is trimmed, cut, sanded or sawn, its tiny fibres are released into the air. If inhaled, the fibres can get lodged in your lungs, leading to the growth of scar tissue and even cancerous tumours. The inhalation of larger fibres is also associated with the triggering of certain upper-respiratory infections and stomach irritation. A respirator with a particulate filter can be installed to prevent the inhalation of fibres.


Another risk is contamination, which can result from improper installation of or long periods of exposure to fibreglass. The tiny fibres may end up in clothing, carpeting, and air and heating ducts, contaminating the environment--meaning more people becoming susceptible to exposure. When removing fibreglass insulation, first dampen it to prevent the tiny fibres from entering the air. Also, always wash yourself thoroughly, preferable using cold water, after working with fibreglass; warm water will only cause your skin pores to open up, allowing the tiny particles to get trapped and go deeper into the skin, which can lean to infections and other health risks.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Alexis Writing has many years of freelance writing experience. She has written for a variety of online destinations, including She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Rochester.