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Glass Wool & Rock Wool Carcinogenic?

vij

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It is well known that synthetic fibers used for insulation are harmful if in direct contact for long. But could they be carcinogenic?

Both glass wool and rock wool are not listed as carcinogenic by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency but is neither deemed "safe".

A study of glasswool workers in the U.S. showed a slight increase in mortality from respiratory cancer, however, this increase was not statistically significant.
A study of rockwool/slagwool workers in the U.S. indicated a statistically significant increase in mortality from respiratory cancer.
Source: Fine Mineral Fibers | Technology Transfer Network Air Toxics Web site | US EPA


Now, these stats are for workers who are in direct contact with the fibers for many years, but I wonder what are the potential long term implications for us HT owners with those beautiful insulated wall panels. I am confident it would be nill - but this is worth discussing.
 
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prana

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#2
Even studies done by the CSA - Cancer Society of America has approved that neither rock wool nor glass wool are carcinogenic. Though some of the the chemicals used earlier in these materials like asbestos and formaldehyde which we not good have now been stopped and these days both the materials are free from both of these chemicals.

Big companies abroad like RPG GIK Acoustics Anutone Ultracoustic etc all use the same material as their core ingredient for their products, so that also implies that neither of these material is harmful.
 

vijwilso

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#3
Yes , Now it is not in the list of Carcinogenic causing elements . However there are other materials available which are equally good as compared to this one , but more expensive . I opted for these as i did not want to take any risk
 

mastmaula

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Both Rock wool and glass wool are POTENTIALLY carcinogenic based on the available information in the public domain. I don't think authorities have given a clearance to both these agents as non-carcinogenic. In humans, adequately powered studies are impossible to conduct given the long incubation period for carcinogenicity and ethical considerations. Thus prospective, randomised, double blind controlled trials are not possible. You can only extrapolate data from animal studies. In animals, who have shorter life spans than humans, you can ethically conduct these studies as owing to a shorter life span they provide excellent disease models ( you can imagine this as "fast forwarding" the pathogenesis of disease owing to their shorter life span). In them, both these agents --Rock wool and "biopersistent" glass wool are proven carcinogens. But as we always say....since the data is extrapolated from animals and were not performed in humans in the first place...one should take these results with a pinch of salt. But being cautious is never harmful. Hence they have been classed as POTENTIALLY carcinogenic.
 
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vij

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Both Rock wool and glass wool are POTENTIALLY carcinogenic based on the available information in the public domain. I don't think authorities have given a clearance to both these agents as non-carcinogenic. In humans, adequately powered studies are impossible to conduct given the long incubation period for carcinogenicity and ethical considerations. Thus prospective, randomised, double blind controlled trials are not possible. You can only extrapolate data from animal studies. In animals, who have shorter life spans than humans, you can ethically conduct these studies as owing to a shorter life span they provide excellent disease models ( you can imagine this as "fast forwarding" the pathogenesis of disease owing to their shorter life span). In them, both these agents --Rock wool and "biopersistent" glass wool are proven carcinogens. But as we always say....since the data is extrapolated from animals and were not performed in humans in the first place...one should take these results with a pinch of salt. But being cautious is never harmful. Hence they have been classed as POTENTIALLY carcinogenic.
Scary, but it has to be also pointed out that the rats in those studies were not affected because they used rockwool/glasswool inside their wall panels - it was infact direct introduction of high concentrations(by scale) of the synthetic fibers(inhalation and injections) that caused the cancerous effects. I would imagine there are a lot of other "otherwise harmless" materials that could cause such harmful effects when introduced to the body in such harsh manner.
 
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mastmaula

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Scary, but it has to be also pointed out that the rats in those studies were not affected because they used rockwool/glasswool inside their wall panels - it was infact direct introduction of high concentrations(by scale) of the synthetic fibers(inhalation and injections) that caused the cancerous effects. I would imagine there are a lot of other "otherwise harmless" materials that could cause such harmful effects when introduced to the body in such harsh manner.
Some harmful effects are "dose related" while others are not. For example, as you pointed out that large amount were inhaled by these rats....some respiratory side effects would be dose dependent...ability of the body to exchange gases in lungs based upon the mechanical blockage of airways and direct/indirect damage to alveoli (tiny functional units in the lungs) but the same may not be apply to cancer genesis....this is where biology is different from physics/mathematics....not very predictable. Only when data becomes available....any examining authority is able to decide whether the effect was "dose related"....this is "evidence based medicine". If medical fraternity starts predicting....they will become less of scientists and more of Astrologers :p. This is the reason that in absence of data they would never clear rock wool and glass wool as non carcinogens.

Also, as one of the FM pointed out that most leading acoustics products companies use rock wool and glass wool and hence they should be safe...this faith is misplaced....In order to ban a product you have to have hard core data to take a legal stand against these manufacturers.....and the data simply doesn't exist at this stage. Only with passage of time we will come to know if our choice of these agents as acoustic materials in our HT was appropriate or not. :sad:
 

Fantastic

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#7
I used fiber glass quite a bit in the early 80's. I recommend that nobody should use it at home . The fibers break very easily and are very fine in size. They penetrate the skin easily and cause itching and irritation and next to impossible to remove. They come off with time and the itching dies down.Besides the small pieces fly around everywhere and could be inhaled inadvertently and also contaminate things you eat if left nearby !
I used to be very careful but it doesn't help very much. So I stopped using it. Later I read reports that it could be carcinogenic and I always stayed away . I came across several old speaker cabinets which had absorbent in them made of FG . I could have removed them for my experiments but resisted the temptation. The problems are not worth it. The alternatives work well enough. At least they are safe.
 

vij

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I think the risk is more for people who install these systems as part of their daily job. Interesting conclusion from a research.
The risk for a nonsmoking installer of glass wool fiber insulation who wears a respirator is about 6 in a million (and might be zero) per year. This means that out of a million installers there might be six lung cancers from this cause every year or out of 10,000 installers there might be one in 16 years. The low risk of 6 in a million per year of a worker blowing glass wool is consistent with the fact that no one has found any of cancer attributable to the manufacture or installation of glass wool fibers in spite of diligent searches
A risk assessment for exposure to glass wool. - PubMed - NCBI


Rockwool too has plenty of similar reports and research.
 

mastmaula

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vij

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What are the alternatives to rock wool and glass wool?
 
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Fantastic

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BAF. Bonded acetate fiber.
You can use Dacron used to stuff pillows ! Not as good as FG but works well and much safer. It is also made in India. If you can't find it raw, just buy a Dacron filled pillow and tear it apart ! :)

Oh wait, maybe you can have a great pillow fight with friends and then use the material after that ! ;)
 

sound_cycle

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Hi

Intersting.

I have a sackful of rackwool on the walls and ceiling.

Once installed (and TBH there was a only small amount of dust then, because I had wrapped the panels even as they came out of the original packaging) I cannot detect any evidence of their presence - as dust, skin irritation etc. I can hear them ofc :).

Following this thread. and I am hoping that it does not come to a the surgeon general has determined that listening to music is harmful to your health thing

ciao
gr
 

vij

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Hi

Intersting.

I have a sackful of rackwool on the walls and ceiling.

Once installed (and TBH there was a only small amount of dust then, because I had wrapped the panels even as they came out of the original packaging) I cannot detect any evidence of their presence - as dust, skin irritation etc. I can hear them ofc :).

Following this thread. and I am hoping that it does not come to a the surgeon general has determined that listening to music is harmful to your health thing

ciao
gr
Could there be very miniscule amounts of the fibers floating into the room all the time?

If the inner layers of rock wool is wrapped in foam before being covered in fabric - would there still be such floaters - would it lose its acoustic properties that way?
 

sound_cycle

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Could there be very miniscule amounts of the fibers floating into the room all the time?

(Subjective answer) Not that it is visible on sweeping or vacuuming. No skin or eye irritation. Provisional conclusion: (Probably) not

If the inner layers of rock wool is wrapped in foam before being covered in fabric - would there still be such floaters - would it lose its acoustic properties that way?
The recommendation is to use acoustically transparent stuff. I briefly considered a foam layer, but in various ways it complicated matters and I dropped the idea. My definition of acoustically transparent was simple, be able to breath through. Old bedsheets/ saris met that crude definition, and even better were readily available and almost of the perfect size. As to a perfectly reasonable follow up question ie "So if it is breathable will it let the fibres and dust out ?" I have no reason to think that it happens, see above.

However I am following this thread, JIC

ciao
gr
 

vijwilso

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What are the alternatives to rock wool and glass wool?
Check with AnuTone and accousticsurfaces.in . They have other materials. I bought a PolyMax from from accousticsurfaces which has the same absorption characteristics of glasswool .
 

vij

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sound_cycle

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Called them up. 260Rs per sqft is the price - and they have the desi version of Poly Max with NRC 0.80

But they have wood wool boards with NRC 0.8 - cost 90Rs/sqft.
Thanks.

For comparison Rockwool Rockinsul 6 slabs (1200 x 600 mm) was Rs 95/- per sqm+ Vat 14.5% extra ex Hyderabad+ Transport Extra.

(The transport extra killed my wallet :sad:)

1ft= 0.093m, so 10.7639 is 260 x 10.76 or 2797 ! ~ 900 for the alternate.

Quite steep. But then good health priceless and all that

ciao
gr
 
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#20
Few years back working on a installation of industrial oven I came across glasswool being used for insulated panels. The workers cautioned me to stay away as any skin contact with the material could give a really bad itch. So if you are not sure how to handle Glasswool or rockwool be very careful. Better make the paneling outside your home and bring the finished panels in home. Else take professional help.

As for alternate materials, yes they are expensive Rs 200 per square feet is not cheap. Assuming a 10ft x 10ft wall or ceiling you are looking at around Rs 20,000 straight.
Unless you have put a fortune in the system itself, check if you really need to spend so much for sound proofing. Try with a wall to wall carpet if not already done. Can be expensive but can be a very good starting point and at times sufficient enough to take away the need for going any further. A thick Kashmiri carpet between my seating place and speakers was sufficient to get a decent center imaging. My walls are bare but just the addition of the carpet helped a lot

But if you really want to do heavy sound proofing ensure that you have either sufficient knowledge or professional help on how to analyze the changes to sound after adding the insulation else you will end up with a totally dead or very odd sounding room.
 
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