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Author Topic: Why does glass fibre smell?  (Read 629 times)

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Offline ChrisStewart

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Why does glass fibre smell?
« on: October 12, 2008, 11:05:38 AM »
Hi all,

I’ve just has the unpleasant task of putting some extra insulation in my loft and noticed that when I cut the glass fibre insulation it had a distinctive smell. As this insulation is made from recycled bottles why does it smell?

Any ideas?

Regards

Chris
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Offline Frank

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Re: Why does glass fibre smell?
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2008, 02:22:59 PM »
A mixture of dirt and impurities. When you cut fibreglass all the embedded muck gets stirred up along with fine particles of glass. That is what you breathe in but the glass does not smell. Of course, that is why you wear a mask when laying it as you don't want glass in lungs or eyes. I once had a piece of fibreglass get past my goggles and embedded in an eyeball, agony for weeks. Nowadays if I do it, I buy a disposable one piece cat-suit with hood - saves a lot of itching later too.
Frank A.
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Offline ChrisStewart

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Re: Why does glass fibre smell?
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2008, 05:00:39 PM »
Hi Frank,

Thanks for the reply. Although the smell is most noticable when you cut the fibre glass, it still has a faint smell when you unroll it.

I used the paper throw away overalls followed by a long shower. Despite all the protection the fibres seem to get every where, although I do wonder how much of the 'itching' is in the imagination.

Its a job I won't have to do for another 20 years I hope.

Regards

Chris
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Offline krsilber

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Re: Why does glass fibre smell?
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2008, 07:09:11 PM »
In new fiberglass there shouldn't be much in the way of dirt or impurities.  The smell probably comes from the way it's manufactured.  From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiberglass_batting#Fiberglass_batts_and_blankets):

"Fiberglass is energy intensive in manufacture and fibers are wrapped in oil-based resins. Fiberglass batts are typically backed with formaldehyde, a hazardous chemical known to slowly off-gas from the insulation over many years. [11] The industry has tried to mitigate these issues. Formaldehyde-free batts (which actually contain a very low amount of formaldehyde) and batts made of some recycled fiberglass (up to 30% recycled content) are available."

My guess is it's the oil-based resins you're smelling.  I don't know how common the formaldehyde stuff is anymore.  All the fiberglass I've used doing construction has been formaldehyde-free.

Nasty job, installing fiberglass!  We usually use the stuff that's wrapped in plastic, but still end up getting itchy.  Protective gear?  Not us macho contractors! ::)  Frank's fiberglass in the eye story makes me think twice about it now, though.
Kristi


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Offline aa

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Re: Why does glass fibre smell?
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2008, 08:59:39 PM »
http://www.tri-isosuper10.co.uk/

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