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Fiberglass-reinforced plastics: cutting hazards and other MSDS information: this article describes possible health hazards when working with fiberglass-reinforced plastic products and materials. Our page top photo illustrates a fiberglass-reinforced lightweight Bell™ Canoe in use in the Quetico wilderness.
Fiberglass hazards in buildings: this article series provides information about how to identify fiberglass insulation in buildings and fiberglass hazards and fiberglass insulation contamination issues in residential and light-commercial buildings.
The fiberglass research literature is replete with studies indicating that there are no health hazards associated with airborne fiberglass particles, and with other studies reaching quite the opposite conclusion. We recommend that readers examine carefully the methodology used in such studies, the expertise of the researchers, and the sources financing of such work.
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Reader Question: What are the potential hazards from dust created by cutting fiberglass reinforced plastic panels & what cleanup is suggested
I'm covering a new fireplace with faux-stone decorative panels made of fibreglass reinforced plastics (polyester resin + fiberglass + marble dust) and last Tuesday a panel was cut in the home (the others were generally cut outdoors). Since then my family and I have been living with thick dust 24 hours a day.
Photo at left adapted from an image of fiberglass reinforced and very realistic faux-stone panel, available from Texture Plus (www.textureplus.com) .
I am pregnant and have two children aged 7 and 2 (the two-year-old boy now has cough and red eyes, and I have too in a milder way). I have tried to dust and clean the floor in the ordinary way but I'm not sure that's enough. Is this situation dangerous for my family?
What can I do to definitely get rid of this dust? Do you think the FRP fireplace covering will cause health problems in the future once finished (considering the fact that it will be subject to heating)? - R.S. 10/19/2012, Italy
Reply: cleanup suggestions for FRP cutting dust or any other fine particulates
Where to clean up FRP dust
Just which areas need additional cleaning really depends on how far the cutting dust spread through the building - by direct air transport or potentially by movement through a warm air heat or cool air conditioning system if such were in operation and not well filtered. Certainly remote building areas closed off by doorways or other means during this problem are not as likely to have high levels of this irritating dust.
How to clean up FRP dust
This cleanup typically involves HEPA vacuuming and damp wiping of all indoor surfaces and contents sufficient to remove most of the irritating dust. If there is central air conditioning or heating, it might be appropriate to clean the ductwork (if it can be cleaned without damage) and air handler as well as of course changing the air filters.
Are there health concerns from FRP dust exposure?
Here is what Texture Plus says about their faux stone, brick, bamboo, etc. FRP panels:
Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic products are in the chemical family of Polymerized Thermoset Polyesters , of which some manufacturers such as Formglas do indeed provide MSDS data. Formglas agrees that their products are not hazardous in normal use, stating:
Here are explicit details from the Formglas product MSDS
In sum, the industry does not indicate signifiant healt concerns associated with working with FRP produts. Beyond cleaning, questions about persistent respiratory or health worries are a matter you should discuss with your physician.
Look for the MSDS for the specific FRP product that you are using
For more detail you can take a further look at the FRP additional example MSDS (material data safety sheet examples below - or better, obtain the product name for the specific FRP that was cut inside your home and thus you can obtain from the manufacturer the MSDS for that specific product). In the typical example MSDSs that we surveyed to research your question, the data asserts that about inhalation the MSDS states
Note further that depending on the fiberglass reinforced plastic product involved, there may be trace levels of formaldehyde present during machining or cutting - see the second MSDS we cite below.
Do keep me posted on how things progress, as what we learn may assist other readers.
and FIBERGLASS DETECTION in BUILDING AIR & DUST
Just below we include FRP Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic Products MSDS Material Safety Data Sheet Data
Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic Product MSDS Information can also give some insight to potential health hazards as well as the contents of those products. Here are a few examples of FRP MSDS sheets:
Our photo (left) illustrates two ultra-lightweight canoes in use in the Quetico wilderness. The left-most canoe is a 17-foot fiberglass-reinforced canoe while the right-most canoe is a 17-foot canoe made of resin reinforced kevlar.
Both of these canoes offer very light weight and strong service, but both also need to be protected from sidewall damage by impact on sharp rocks. We carried duct tape for emergency repairs but have never needed to use it. - Ed.
Continue reading at FIBERGLASS HAZARDS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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