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So im in my attic installing Cat6 cable in some places. It's a yellow looking insulation (Some is sort of "loose" and some are in sheets, the loose stuff is more white-ish). The House was built in 2002 so there is no asbestos or anything (I'd assume).

Anyways I was handling some of it with my bare hands, (Not a ton) before I realized...wow I should not be doing that. This is in an attic that's walkable.

Is there any super immediate danger to handling this a little bit (was just pushing some out of the way). I also washed my hands right after.

As far as masks I was wearing a 3M 8200. It seems like this can be used for Fiberglass/Insulation (Unless im wrong). Or do I need to get a different mask?

As far as handling it, is there any certain type of gloves I should be using?

Since I touched it previously, am I in any danger? Is insulation THAT dangerous or is it more-so if you are around it a lot? (My skin seems fine as far as itchiness goes)

  • there is no danger, you're fine. relax. – dandavis Jul 26 '18 at 17:41
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Considering your house was built in 2002, the white fluffy stuff is probably blown in cellulose insulation and I suspect zero danger considering the short, limited exposure. But it does have some chemical content:

In total, the average paper content of cellulose insulation is around 75-85%. The rest is made up of fire retardant material like boric acid, or ammonium sulphate.

I wouldn't want to work with it long term without some skin protection, but any gloves you're comfortable with that allow you reasonable dexterity are surely satisfactory.

The yellow "sheets" you described are likely fiberglass bats. But as far as I know, the worst case for touching those would be some irritation and itching. Possibly a rash in a worst case scenario, but for that I think you'd have to be allergic.

You're smart to wear a mask. Similarly, a few, limited exposures would most likely result in some irritated breathing for a couple days and pose no long term effects. But breathing in the fiberglass dust is your biggest danger here. Your mask is fine for one-project's worth of exposure. But if I were doing several projects up there or working around attic dust as part of my job I'd upgrade the mask to one of those face-muffler-looking-masks, something like the one pictured below.

My opinion is you'll be okay and don't need to worry. And I suspect 9 out of 10 here would probably agree with that sentiment.

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    FYI, most contractors around here blow fiberglass. That's what I'd have guessed we're dealing with here. Most homeowners looking to upgrade older homes blow cellulose. – isherwood Jul 26 '18 at 15:02
  • Interesting. Is blown in fiberglass less expensive than blown in cellulose? I didn't realize blown in fiberglass was even an option...it makes me want to cough just thinking about it! – elrobis Jul 26 '18 at 15:10
  • I couldn't give you a cost comparison, though Google could. I think it has to do with the low-quality impression cellulose has, being mostly recycled newsprint. "Fiberglass" has more emotional/pseudo-technical appeal. – isherwood Jul 26 '18 at 15:12
  • Thanks, I ended up getting a similar mask to the above. amazon.com/3M-65021HA1-C-Household-Multi-Purpose-Respirator/dp/… To be exact, hopefully it'll be fine – msmith1114 Jul 27 '18 at 1:42
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Fiberglass has come a long way since the 70s, when contact was akin to lying naked on a nail bed. Nowdays the fibers are much finer and more uniform (back then you'd encounter honest-to-goodness shards of glass!), and there's less disintegration with handling. Here's my routine:

  1. Wear a basic dust mask. Fiberglass isn't particularly dangerous, but going unprotected is a recipe for several hours of coughing later, and worse if you're prone to sinus or chest infections.

  2. Wear pants and a long-sleeve shirt with a tight weave. Soft cotton may not help much, but even that will prevent most skin contact. Heavy cotton (denim) or synthetics may do better.

  3. Gloves aren't a priority, in my opinion. They impede work somewhat and hands don't tend to get as itchy anyway. Wear them if you like. Leather or synthetics are better than jersey, for example.

  4. Eye protection is a good idea, but it would have to be goggles to stop airborne dust and they tend to fog up in attics, where high temps and low airflow are often a problem. Take care to not fling material at your face and you'll be ok.

  5. Cool, soapy showers save the day. As soon as you're done in the attic, scrub down. The longer you wear contaminated clothing the more glass fiber will grind into your skin. Put all clothing directly into the laundry.

This is advice for folks with some risk and discomfort tolerance. If you're the cautious type, get a Tyvek suit and a respirator.

  • Good point about the goggles! – elrobis Jul 26 '18 at 15:15
  • Unfortunately with glasses goggles make it almost impossible to see. I will def. be careful about my eyes though. – msmith1114 Jul 27 '18 at 2:26

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