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Synthetic Vitreous Fibers and Identifying Occupational Exposure Risks in California

By: WebWire

Synthetic vitreous fibers (SVFs) are man-made fibrous materials used for thermal and sound insulating purposes, and to reinforce other building materials. One of them, glass wool fibers, was listed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) as known to the state to cause cancer for purposes of Proposition 65 all the way back in 1990.

SVFs consist of inorganic materials that contain aluminum or calcium silicates, and are made from rock, clay, slag or glass according to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR). The three traditional categories of SVFs listed by the agency include:

  • Glass fibers (fiberglass), including glass wool and continuous filament glass
  • Mineral wool, which contains stone wool and slag wool
  • Refractory ceramic fibers, used to insulate furnaces in replacement of asbestos

“These fibers can become airborne when materials containing them are handled or disturbed,” said Michael Chapman, Laboratory Manager of LA Testing's Huntington Beach facility. “The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that many workers are exposed to synthetic mineral fibers in manufacturing and end-use applications. These often include workers who install or remove insulation or that are involved in building maintenance or repair activities. Exposure can also take place in the home when insulation materials containing SVFs are disturbed or installed during DIY projects.”

Airborne SVFs can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Skin contact can also cause irritation. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that refractory ceramic fibers are possibly carcinogenic to humans. To protect workers there are published occupational exposure limits for SVFs from OSHA, NIOSH and various state and professional organizations. LA Testing, with multiple laboratories in California, also helps to protect workers with air, dust and bulk SVF testing services. In addition to laboratory services, they offer sampling supplies, air monitoring instruments and even personal protective equipment (PPE). Last year, LA Testing sponsored an educational video about SVFs and potential exposure risks that can still be seen at:

To learn more about this or other IEQ, building science, environmental, health and safety testing services, sampling supplies and products, please visit, email or call (800) 755-1794.

About LA Testing
LA Testing is California's leading laboratory for environmental testing of asbestos, mold, lead, VOCs, formaldehyde, soot, char, ash and smoke damage, particulates and other chemicals. In addition, LA Testing offers a full range of air sampling and investigative equipment to professionals and the general public. LA Testing maintains an extensive list of accreditations including: AIHA LAP LLC., AIHA ELLAP, AIHA EMLAP and AIHA IHLAP, CDC ELITE, NVLAP, State of California, State of Hawaii Department of Health and other states. LA Testing, along with the EMSL Analytical, Inc. network, has multiple laboratories throughout California including South Pasadena, Huntington Beach, San Leandro and San Diego.

— WebWireID293635 —

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