Fiberglass is replacing asbestos in home insulation market, says personal injury lawyer
January 22, 2009 – Fiberglass has many of the same thermal insulating properties as asbestos. When used for building insulation, both help keep buildings warm in winter and cool in the summer, and both are nonflammable, according to a mesothelioma lawyer at Weitz & Luxenberg.
They also share a more sinister characteristic. Both are known to cause cancer.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that can be woven into cloth.
Fiberglass is a man-made product, composed primarily of sand and glass melted down and spun into small strands.
Asbestos in home insulation
A common ingredient in housing insulation that is used even today is called "vermiculite." By itself, vermiculite is reasonably harmless.
The problem is that a great deal of vermiculite (most of which mined at a facility operated by W.R. Grace in Libby, Mont.) was contaminated with asbestos fibers. The W.R. Grace trial on environmental crimes is slated to begin in Missoula, Mont., on February 19.
Fiberglass, the new asbestos
As asbestos has been slowly phased out of the domestic marketplace because of its proven health hazards, fiberglass production in the United States has been rising some 10 percent every year to more than 500 million pounds annually.
Like asbestos, fiberglass is now recognized for creating serious health problems. According to the American Lung Association, fiberglass insulation packages display cancer warning labels.
“These labels,” says the Lung Association, “are required by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) based on determinations made by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Toxicology Program.”
Despite the rising use of fiberglass and the health hazards long associated with asbestos, asbestos is still imported and used in the United States. The United States imported and used an estimated 1,820 tons of asbestos in 2007, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Government sources estimate that in the next decade more than 35,000 people nationwide will be diagnosed with the deadliest form of asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma. This disease is most often the result of industrial workplace exposure to asbestos – and usually contracted through employers’ blatant disregard for the health and safety of their workers.
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