Fiberglass - May be hazardous. Have your daughter do it.

Fiberglass is weird stuff. It's still debated whether or not it's a carcinogen. Mostly, the anti-fiberglass people are bothered by it's similarity to asbestos fibers. The difference is that, when glass fibers break into smaller particles, they only break across the fiber, giving you little crumbly bits. Asbestos fibers can only break longditudinally, or along the length of the fiber, resulting in ever thinner, pointy little spears. When inhaled, your body can't shake them loose. You can't cough them out, and they stay there forever, irritating your lungs and possibly killing you as a disease called mesothelioma. Glass fibers can be expelled from your lungs, and as of yet, fiberglass is not considered a carcinogen.
Yeah, great and all that. Fiberglass still has lots of other unpleasantness to offer. Fibers can lodge in your skin and cause irritation. Inhaled particles can cause coughing and nosebleeds. OSHA guidelines recommend wearing a respirator, several pairs of gloves, a space suit, and a backup spacesuit in case you snag your first spacesuit on a nail crawling around your attic, which you will. Of course, the sticker on your hammer insists that you wear goggles and a hardhat every time you even look at the thing. So, grain of salt.

Apparently, in 1958, the hazards of fiberglass weren't understood. At the time, fiberglass had been on the market for twenty years, but apparently everyone blamed their itchy skin on communism or something. Until I saw this ad, I didn't even know fiberglass was used to make air conditioner filters. That's kind of horrifying - blowing air through fiberglass to distribute fibers into your house for easy inhalation all summer long.

In panel three, they show the little girl (with the creepy retouched eyes) holding the filter with her bare hands. Yikes. When I insulated my attic, I wore a bunch of clothes to keep from touching the stuff, and when it accidentally brushed my wrist, it brought on a barely suppressible attck of the heebie jeebies. After the attic ordeal, I had a cold. brutal shower like in Silkwood.

Incidentally, if you get fiberglass in your skin, it's better to wash the area with cold water. Warm water will open your pores, encouraging the fibers to work their way farther in ...unless you're a darling little girl, I guess. Then it's okay to have an Owens-Corning sandwich for supper and sleep under a blanket of R-30.


Post a Comment