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Fiberglass inhalation


I was exposed to fiberglass as well when it fell out of the ceiling. I inhaled it and since then I have been sensitive to smoke and car fumes. I also keep feeling like something is stuck in my throat and have throat pain which increases when i speak as well as trouble breathing.  I feel the restriction in my chest when i walk, like a tightness. It get worse when it rains. I went to a pulmonologist who is now refering me to a cardiologist. I couldnt find any test that would show fiberglass. I have had MRI and CT scans as well as ultrasounds. The ultrasound showed swelling around the throat area.I had been referred for a doplar ultrasound. My throat has been teste and no pathogens found, not bacteria or virus but they didnt test for debris. I have used a lot of natural remedies and well as inhalers and other medications. I there a test that would sample the debris in my throat. .

This discussion is related to I inhaled Fiberglass Insulation -- Please Help!.
45 Responses
Avatar universal
Hello and hope you are doing well.

Fiberglass is a silicate fiber and can reduce lung function and cause inflammation. It can also cause skin, eye and throat irritation. At higher exposure levels, fiberglass also has been associated with skin rashes and difficulty in breathing. Was the lung function tests normal?

Fiberglass emits a synthetic material called styrene, which is a possible carcinogenic. Styrene and its breakdown products can be measured in your blood, urine, and body tissues. Styrene leaves your body quickly. If you are tested within one day, the actual amount of exposure can be estimated. However, it is difficult to predict the kind of health effects that might develop from that exposure.

Hope this helped and do keep us posted.
Not sure where you got this information but it is wrong! It is impossible for fiberglass to breakdown into styrene.  Fiberglass is  just that glass fibers and is inert and inorganic.  Styrene is an organic compound typically derived from petrochemicals or coal and is used to make polystyrene - (Styrofoam). It also occurs naturally in cinnamon, coffee beans and peanuts.  Inorganic compounds cannot breakdown or create organic compounds.
Read carefully, no one said fiberglass breaks down into styrene. Styrene is a common polymer agent used in the production of fiberglass and that additive, as the DNB noted, does breakdown and is hazardous when inhaled.
Avatar universal
Thank you for that information. The breathing test did show reduced lung funtion. I would like to know of case studies or real life cases of how people treated this condition and how living with it long term affected their lives.
Avatar universal
Hello and hope you are doing well.

To begin with it is mostly prevention. Always wear a dust mask in areas where exposure is likely, to help avoid inhaling glass fibers. The damage which has already been done will be there. Treatment is usually symptomatic. Antibiotics for infections and bronchodilators for bronchospasm. And of course avoidance of smoking to prevent further damage to the lungs. To improve lung function practice breathing exercises.

Hope this helped and do keep us posted.
Avatar universal
The exposure was done without warning. Several people were affected. Many reporting same or similar symptoms. I was/am on antibiotics, nasal sprays, inhalers, steroids and other drugs to the point that I developed edema and acid reflux. I never smoked in my life and never liked how it smelled but now it affects me to the point of feeling like air was sucked out of my lungs, loosing my breath and feeling faint, just by someone passing by.

I did find some information,

Health hazards associated with moldy fiberglass in buildings, with focus on fiberglass insulation, fiberglass fragments, fiberglass in heating and air conditioning duct work, and invisible but toxic mold growth in fiberglass which has been wet, exposed to high humidity, or exposed to other moldy conditions. Small glass fiber fragments are easily "lost" in other non-fungal granular debris in building dust. Level of airborne fiberglass in buildings may be faulty if the methods used to screen for fiberglass fragments do not include small, even sub-micron particles along with the common large particles.Fiberglass fragments are inorganic material typically from fiberglass insulation; depending on their size and quantity these may be a respiratory irritant or may contribute to more serious health concerns. It is possible that small fiberglass particles in air may constitute a meaningful health risk which has not been explored.
Avatar universal
There are conflicting reports on breathing exercises and breathing deeply if there are fiberglass particles lodged in the lungs or throat. Since the particles don't pass out of the body as the whole fragments, it may cause the particles to get lodged deeper into the lung tissue and cause other issues. I guess the hope is that the particles would migrate safely into the blood stream and not get lodged where it could cause clots, cysts or cancer.
Avatar universal
Also fiberglass is glass fibers and they cut. I wonder if some of the sensitivity is capillaries or veins being exposed or cut by the lodged particles creating a direct path for infections into the blood stream. Many people reported have to increase hand washing and having to be very particular with what they eat because eating any thing not fully cooked or slightly contaminated creates an immediate sore throat in addition to the existing throat pains.
Avatar universal
Common symptoms of fiberglass overdose
•persistent, dry, hacking "barking" cough
•sore throat, bloody taste in throat or blood in sputum
•bloody nose
•persistent, occasionally very severe, sinusitis and rhinitis which does not respond to common medical treatment,
•especially treatment for allergies,
•persistent, occasionally severe respiratory infections which, again, do not respond to common medical treatment,
•headaches, nausea, dizziness, insomnia, irritability, depression,
•asthma-like breathing attacks or constant wheezing,
•other allergy-like symptoms (which do not respond to allergy treatment),
•"reactive airway disease,"
•swollen, red, watery, infected eyes,
•skin infections, ranging from mild to very severe, requiring hospitalization,
•extreme sensitivity to everyday amounts of ambient pollutants, especially: cigarette smoke, car exhaust, perfumes and colognes, some cleaning products, paints and varnishes, new paneling, cabinetry or furniture made with particle board or strand board, new cars and other new plastic, foams used for furniture and bedding, new carpeting.
Avatar universal
Just out of curiosity, are you feeling better. I may have a similar problem, and am curious to know if you were treated and are feeling better, if time eventually worked it out of your system or if it has continued to be a nuisance.
4851940 tn?1515698193
Fibreglass is an irritant, but the way the fibres break up, they cannot get lodged into the Alveoli.  So in time technically, they should be coughed up.

It is the chemicals used to make the fibreglass that causes the irritations.
Avatar universal
I would like the see the research study that you are speaking of that shows fiberglass or tissue penetrating fiberglass passes 100% out of lungs. I would like to see the study showing micron and submicron as well as whole fiber particles were inhaled then all passed out of the lungs.
Many times foreign bodies have to be manually removed from tissue. However, penetrating foreign bodies are more difficult to remove. Foreign bodies don’t all pass through the body is as you suppose. Ask any soldier wounded by shrapnel, miner, or exposure victim. Additional reports have demonstrated subcutaneous soft tissue foreign bodies from splinters to bullet fragments found years after the traumatic event.
Patients with glass embedded in a wound are more likely to report the sensation of foreign bodies. Unrecognized bronchial foreign bodies cause irreversible changes in the airways. Some foreign bodies may move from the throat into the bronchial branches. This can cause the patient to cough, but the foreign body remains trapped in the lung.
All glass is radiopaque; and there is limited ability for radiography to detect glass fragments smaller than 2 mm. Many foreign bodies are surrounded by a hypo echogenic area representing inflammation.
Most of the foreign bodies were found in the right bronchus. The interbronchial foreign bodies were recovered by bronchoscopy, while some were recovered during emergency tracheotomy and bronchotomy.
The exposure that I was in, included the blowing of the foreign bodies by fans causing them to become projectile. Everyone was coughing, causing a greater exposure and a greater chance if the substances to be imbedded into the throat and lungs. However, you are correct when saying the chemicals from the fiberglass adds to the damage to the body and tissues.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your concern. No I am not feeling or doing much better. I have continuous pain and discomfort to my throat and lungs. I have trouble breathing, tightness of chest, chest pain, squeezing of the chest, heaviness of the chest, shortness of breath, labored breathing, etc. I am on asthma medication, finally one that does not cause many side effects, but I am not sure if it is actually working. Some days are better than others. I have throat pain, a feeling that something is stuck in my throat, increase pain, feeling of a sore throat and swelling with prolonged talking which if continued develops into hoarseness, difficulty swallowing and difficulty speaking with a greater chance of infection. When I speak “too much” or sing my voice breaks. It has affected my work and employment outlook. I am constantly fatigued and have not been able to do a full schedule of house work in the years since the exposure. I have other symptoms including drug reactions. Recommended tests would be a CT, ultrasound, Doppler ultrasound, and fluoroscopy of the neck; bronchoscopy of the lungs; MRI of the brain w/contrast; Methyl Ethyl Ketone blood test; a toxicology of suspected chemicals/substances using blood, urine and tissue samples sent to a lab that does submicron testing for debris; Body Burden testing. Recommended doctors would be top rated ENT, Neurologist, Pulmonologist, Medical Toxicologist, Primary Care Physician and if you can find doctor with a past history of exposure cases even better. I pray you receive good care and assistance. Let me know how you progress or if you find any information in this issue that may help. Thanks.
4851940 tn?1515698193
Sorry to hear that you are still very unwell.

According to MedHelp Policy I am not able to write the web address that I got my information from.  You can type in your address bar "fibreglass in lungs" and you will get sites that come up with the information.  Toolboxtopics ******* typed into your address bar should bring up the information that I read.  There is also information on the American Lung Association site.

There is another site with regard to finer fibreglass particles that is used as insulation in fridges and cabinets and the very fine particles can enter the Aveoli.

What I read was that when asbestos is inhaled, the fibres as very small and when they reach the Alveoli, the Alveoli which are the little sacs in the lungs close around the dust particles.

Because fibreglass is a much larger particle, it does not get into the Alveoli sac.  That doesn't mean it doesn't cause other problems.

I agree with you that what goes into the body is not always excreted.  I have a cactus needle embedded in my body that has been there for the last 30 years causing a painful lump.

Wishing you a speedy recovery.
Avatar universal
Thanks for all the posts,
I hope you all are doing ok,
I recently had an exposure to what i believe may be airborne moldy fiberglass, when a maintenance worker tore out some fiberglass insulation from an antique oven (my original guess was it asbestos, but it tested negative). I've had symptoms similar to yours, although less severe.

Initially I had an inflamed nasal passage and throat, and slightly inflamed eyes. Then blood in sputum I sneezed up, and chest pain, shortness of breath, and sensitivity to smoke, etc.

I hope to read any updates you have. Best wishes
Avatar universal
Sorry the hear about your exposure. I hope you feel better and get quality care. Try RateMds, Healthgrades or Vitals for help finding good doctors. InspectApedia has some information on fiberglass and mold exposure. Each substance by it self has damaging effects but when you combine them the way it affects the body is multiplied like in all chemistry; vinegar or baking soda acts a certain way until you combine them. Please post any observations of findings by you or your doctors. More studies need to be done about the combination effects of substances that naturally occur together; exposure to dust, dust mites, insect waste, fiberglass and mold is a different exposure to just dust and dust mites. Thanks. GOD bless.
Avatar universal
Other symptoms that may be related are nodules in the thyroid with a negative thyroid issue(found with an ultrasound) gallstones, bladder cystitis, black/dark stool, lower back pain, abdomen pain, fatigue. I recommend that exposure patients journal their symptoms at least for a few month to see how your symptoms develops and to not miss any seemingly unrelated symptoms.
Avatar universal
I am sorry to hear you have health problem,   How much fiberglass did you breath?  i ask you because today my Ductwork was change and i breath some fiberglass,  i dont fell bad, i have dry nose, i am cleaning all my house because i have 2 kids,

gos bless you
Avatar universal
I have read this and found it very interesting....  

In past almost two years....  I have had chronic sinus infections, multiple antibiotics, steroids, inhalers, breathing treatments.  Two sinus surgeries in past year, lung xrays, EKG, Stress Test, Breathing test (which revealed low intake on inhale), Allergy Test, Endoscopy, Throat ballooned open to stretch opena constriction.... (last two year just this past week).  I also have inquirred with HVAC company about upgrade unit it is past its life expectancy......  one company pointed out that fiberglass insides in duct work was detoriating rapidly.  Research and seeing that this could be cause.  Note I just married on 10/06/2012 but was living there at least 6 months before wedding.  

Where do I go from here?

I have constant nasal type drainage, feeling of lump in throat, heaviness in chest, sometimes to point of a pain in center of chest between boobs and at times goes clean through to my back.  I have trouble sleeping, even with medication, and I am exhausted always.  I get winded carrying a load of laundry up the steps.....  I am almost 40, 5'9" in height and just under 150 lbs., female.....  so its not a weight issue.  

Any help would be appreciated?
Avatar universal
Hello, my wife and I moved into our new house 1 year ago.  I have a daughter that just turned 3 and we are expecting another daughter in the next few days.

I recently discovered our ac/ heating return vent was not installed properly and was sucking in all the fiberglass insulation from our attic for the past year.  My 3 year old daughter had constant health problems since we moved in and we just thought it was allergies from the air outside of the house or pollen.  Some of her symptoms are coughing, running nose, irritation to eye and itchy skin.  Has anybody experienced or know any dangers to what long term exposure to fiberglass insulation can cause?    
Avatar universal
I haven't yet found any real quick fix or cure treatment for fiberglass exposure. Detoxing may help with the symptoms and prolong the development of cancer. Aspirin keeps the blood thin and help any dislodged floating partials circulate out of the body as well as keeping fresh blood to the injured sites. Omega 3.6.9 is good for the brain issues as well as Turmeric. Being careful to rest and de-stress. Fresh vegetables, herbs, roots, fruits and leaves can help keep the body going and help prolong the turn for the worst. I haven't found any procedure that would take the embedded glass out. Please be aware that fiberglass particles are not on their best behavior and do not just leave the body quickly  and orderly as some articles suppose. I can circulate to other parts of the body like the brain.

Long term verses short term exposure would be a mute point because it really about the type of exposure. Working in fiberglass with proper gear and clothing for years could be listed a "long term" exposure with no side effect. When in reality the only exposure that should be counted for health purposes is when people come in contact with fiberglass without proper protection. How they were exposed, what other contaminants were attached to the fiberglass and how the exposed reacted to the exposure play a role. For example: Was the fiberglass blowing around, drifting down or being walked on? Was there mold, insect droppings, rodents droppings, other chemicals? Did the person cough with their mouth open, rub their eyes, took deep breaths to sneeze or did they cover their mouth, never touched their face, took a shower right away? It doesn't take long to have a massive damaging exposure but the build up effect over time is just as harmful.

Here are a few of the list of medical issues caused by fiberglass exposure:

skin, eye and upper respiratory tract irritation
red eyes, irritated
soar nose
soar throat
Asthma and bronchitis like conditions (reduced lung function)
stomach irritation
reactions to the formaldehyde, styrene and methyl ethyl ketone in fiberglass
brain cancer
Avatar universal
I am 49 years old and have been working with fiberglass for the last 29 years building various projects, mostly boats.
I don' t wear any protection, which is probably not a good idea, but I sand, grind and cut fiberglass all the time.
I crawled through old house ceilings, on my belly, in fiberglass insulation, more than a few times.
I have not had any health related issues because of the fiberglass.
If I were you I would start looking at other possible causes for your illness.
Avatar universal
If you had no issues from fiberglass, why are you searching for medical information on fiberglass exposure. Just looking for something random to dispute?

It would be very dismissive to say since you didn't get hurt from fiberglass anyone else who did, somehow must be affected by something else.

Perhaps you also smoked for years and didn't develop cancer so everyone else must have gotten cancer from something else.
4851940 tn?1515698193
I agree with dogooder24.  Just because YOU do not have a problem now, does not mean someone else doesn't.  And it does not guarantee that you won't get a lung disorder as you older.

You have risked your life by not wearing protection whilst working.  This is not a good advert for young men and women who work in those types of industries.  Sanding is in fact one of the worst things you can do without wearing breathing protection.  Any type of irritant, smoke, sand, silica, or fibreglass is not good news for the lungs.  The very minute particles get trapped in the alveoli.  The body's natural response is to cough to try and get rid of the irritant, but some particles are so minute and have sharp edges that they get lodged inside the Alveoli which is the cause of lung disease.

If you have or have had a cough, asthma, bronchitis, discomfort in the chest, etc., then you do have a lung disorder which may be mild at the moment, but would highly likely get much worse as you get older and the more exposure you have to the irritants the worse you will get.

My uncle used to polish off the built up sand on shells and make jewellery from the polished shells - health and safety at work was not well known when he did that type of work which was in fact his hobby.   After many years of doing this he eventually died from lung cancer as a result of the build up silica in Alveoli in his lungs.

Avatar universal
I think all he's saying is in his opinion it's unlikely considering he is a human being who has had massive and prolonged exposure to fibreglass and no symptoms whatsoever perhaps consider other possibilities.

Anyhow I've not been careful enough over the years working with fibre glass and the other days a fan blew some directly at me and I breathed it in. I also breath in dirt a lot as I lay turf etc. for a living. Currently I'm suffering with breathing difficulties and a persistent itchy throat and cough and a bit worried.

Good luck to all!
Avatar universal
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