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The “Ask A Toxicologist” program is part of a growing effort by the College to improve public awareness and education regarding the toxicity of medication interactions, occupational chemicals, new drugs of abuse, venoms and plant toxins. The goal of the program is to provide rational, evidence-based answers to common medical toxicology questions – clearly and concisely. Members of the public are encouraged to submit questions through for review by a panel of experts in human poisoning, who will post a consensus opinion written by one expert in the field. There is no charge for this service.
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Questions relating to an individual’s health concerns cannot be answered, as the program cannot create or replace a doctor-patient relationship. Additionally, we are unable to provide counsel, advice or interpretation for any legal issue. Questions and answers should be of a general nature, and of interest to a wide population. Not all questions will be able to be addressed.
Ask A Toxicologist
Is there toxicity associated with fiberglass manufacture?
posted on 2:57 PM, March 18, 2015
Fibrous glass, otherwise known as fiberglass or man-made vitreous fibers, have been in use for decades now- it is important to keep in mind that this is a diverse group of materials and the health effects vary within the group. There are now are multiple studies of workers examining the potential health effects with long-term exposure. Initial concerns centered on adverse effects on the respiratory system. Fortunately, the findings have been, for the most part, reassuring. Although there are a limited numbers of cases of benign respiratory diseases such pulmonary fibrosis, lung cancer risk is not elevated in studies that do not have concurrent asbestos or silica exposure.
Fibrous glass has also been associated with other effects such as dermatologic, and as you noted, renal- including limited evidence of increased risk of renal cancer; however this has not been confirmed. There is no evidence in these studies of workers exposed to fibrous glass, of adverse hepatic effects.
Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2011 Jun;60(1):84-92. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2011.02.009. Epub 2011 Feb 21. Fiber glass exposure and human respiratory system cancer risk: lack of evidence persists since 2001 IARC re-evaluation. Marsh GM1, Buchanich JM, Youk AO.
Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2014 Mar;20(2):194-8. doi: 10.1097/MCP.0000000000000035. Man-made mineral fibers and interstitial lung diseases. Fireman E1.
Br J Cancer. 2011 May 24;104(11):1797-803. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.148. Epub 2011 May 3. Occupational exposure to dusts and risk of renal cell carcinoma. Karami S1, Boffetta P, Stewart PS, Brennan P, Zaridze D, Matveev V, Janout V, Kollarova H, Bencko V, Navratilova M, Szeszenia-Dabrowska N, Mates D, Gromiec J, Slamova A, Chow WH, Rothman N, Moore LE.