What Happens If You Eat Insulation [Risks, Types, and Safety Measures]

What Happens If You Eat Insulation [Risks, Types, and Safety Measures]

Fiberglass Insulation is a popular insulative material that is widely used in constructing homes and buildings. As a strong and durable material, fiberglass is used around the ductwork, ceiling, floor, and walls to keep the home cool in summer and warm in winter. Like any other constructive material, insulation is not safe for the human body if it comes in contact with the fiberglass more frequently.

But what happens when someone accidently swallows the insulation? You can predict the consequences as the rate of stomach inflammation, irritation, and throat soreness after ingesting fiberglass is pretty high.

In this blog post, we have penned down the expected consequences one can go through after accidently swallowing fiberglass insulation.

What Happens if You Eat Insulation?Risks of Eating Insulation

Fiberglass has been insulating since 1930 in automobiles, aircraft, furnace filters, buildings, etc. Working with this insulating material brings high chances of getting in contact with its tiny fibers, and more frequent exposure to the material is associated with several health complications such as:

Stomach Irritation

Ingesting fiberglass insulation leads to stomach irritation and pain that recovers gradually. Fiberglass has no stomach-friendly composition, so you may expect it to cause stomach pain.

Throat Soreness

When the tiny insulation fibers are inhaled, it causes temporary soreness in the throat and nose. For people with asthma or bronchitis, inhaling fiberglass may worsen the condition. You may experience watery eyes and a runny nose if you are allergic to insulation.


While there are reports that swallowing fiberglass leads to cancer, a few reports on animals show the results otherwise. So, it is reported that there is a small chance of fiberglass being carcinogenic, carrying a risk of causing certain types of cancers if swallowed more frequently.

Damage to the Respiratory Tract

The severe symptoms of fiberglass swallowing can be chest tightness and irregular breathing patterns, which are more likely to cause damage to the respiratory tract.

How do You Deal with the Fiberglass Reaction on the Skin?Fiberglass Rash Home Remedy

Sometimes, when working with fiberglass, it accidently absorbs in the upper layer of the skin, and in individuals with sensitive skin types, it causes skin swelling or irritation. If you ever experience this situation, remove the fiberglass particles carefully from the skin by following the given steps.

  • Wash the skin under running water and gently dry the skin with a clean towel.
  • Put a medicated tape on the affected skin area where fiberglass fibers are embedded.
  • Now, peel away the tape. It will remove the tiny fiber particles from the skin.
  • It works if your skin still has some of the fiberglass remaining, which is not easily visible. If this is the situation, avoid rubbing or scraping the skin, as it might push the fiberglass deeper into the skin.

The topical treatments can be tried to relieve skin irritation and inflammation.

Vaseline has excellent properties to encourage healing, while the calamine lotion also treats the rashes on the skin surface caused due to insulation contact.

Aloe vera gel can also be used to treat skin rashes as it is an excellent anti-inflammatory natural ingredient that heals and moisturizes skin rashes.

Precautionary Measures Against Insulation RisksPrecautionary Measures Against Insulation Risks

It is impossible to completely avoid fiberglass contact when working with it as these are tiny particles that are difficult to resist. Even a mild contamination can be seriously alarming, especially for those already struggling with health issues. However, you may follow a few preventive measures to avoid inhaling, ingesting, or swallowing fiberglass insulation.

  • The protective gear such as gloves, masks, and goggles help effectively tackle fiberglass insulation’s effects. Always have your protective gear on to avoid fiberglass contamination.
  • Ensure that the insulation installation is performed under ventilation, and always seek professional guidelines when installing or working with the fiberglass.
  • Do not let the fiberglass particles spread around; cover it with appropriate materials after installing it.
  • If the fiberglass insulation comes in contact with your skin, go outside in the fresh air. If the discomfort or skin irritation still persists, rush to seek medical help.
  • If any of your clothes is contaminated with fiberglass, wash it separately from other clothes so it does not contaminate them.

What is Fiberglass Insulation Made of?What is Fiberglass Insulation Made of

Fiberglass, a popular synthetic fiber that is also popularly known as glass wool, is manufactured by melting glass and creating strands out of it. Due to its ability to prevent heat transfer, the purpose of its installation is to keep the home safe from trapping heat and cold. Tiny pockets of air trapped in fiberglass keep the home cool in summer and warm in winter. It acts as a thermally resistant barrier regulating airflow under all climatic circumstances. The fiberglass insulating material is popularly used in the walls, floors, and attics and is also considered a cost-effective solution.

The fiberglass material looks like yellow or light pink material and is made with thin glass fibers that come in the form of rolls or precut sections. Since it has tiny glass layering on its surface, touching fiberglass with bare hands can cause skin cuts and/or eye irritation. During the installation or cutting of the fiberglass, there are high chances of inhaling or, most probably, swallowing the fibers of this insulating material, whirling freely around. When these fibers are inhaled accidently, it may lead to temporary soreness and skin irritation.

Bottom Line

It is uncommon and generally not fatal to ingest fiberglass insulation, but it can be uncomfortable and pose health risks. Tiny glass fibers in fiberglass that are mistakenly consumed might irritate the digestive tract and cause symptoms, including abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or constipation. Under extreme circumstances, they may also intervene with the functioning of interior organs. Since the body cannot digest these fibers, they are usually excreted naturally. However, getting medical help immediately is crucial if excessive amounts are consumed, or the symptoms are severe or persistent. To avoid accidental consumption, always handle fiberglass insulation carefully.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is insulation toxic if eaten?

Insulation is extremely toxic if ingested as it is made with hazardous chemicals to increase its longevity. There may be painful sensations in the throat or nose and stomach pain when someone eats the insulated fibers.

Is fiberglass insulation poisonous?

When fibers are inhaled, there may be temporary soreness and irritation in the eyes and throat. Although no long-term, lethal consequences are reported with inhaling fiberglass, there could be temporary side effects after ingesting fiberglass.

Is insulation harmful to the skin?

When it comes in contact with the skin, the fiberglass insulation causes skin irritation in sensitive people. The fiberglass particles may irritate the skin and lead to certain skin allergies.

Is fiberglass safe for cooking?

Fiberglass is proven harmless as cooking liners as it has the ability to withstand high-temperature cooking.

What are the side effects of eating fiberglass?

Accidentally eating fiberglass could lead to stomach irritation, inflammation, and soreness in the nose and throat.

Is it safe to eat with fiberglass chopsticks?

Fiberglass is safe to stand high-temperature cooking, so these are the safest options for cooking liners and chopsticks. But don’t forget to see the label to see if it is ‘food safe’ or not.

What is fiberglass used for?

The strength and durability of fiberglass make it a highly resistant material used in construction, roofing, civil engineering, and sports equipment.

When was fiberglass invented?

Fiberglass, also known as Glass Wool, was invented between 1932 and 1933 to provide thermal insulation in the building.

How long does the fiberglass insulation stay in the lungs?

Fiberglass insulation stays in the lungs longer as it is complicated to expel. The time for which it will stay in the lungs also depends upon the individual’s health and the length of the ingested fiber. The small fiber particles are expelled from the body through coughing, while the larger ones stay in the lungs longer and cause long-term discomfort.

What are the fiberglass poisoning symptoms?

Skin rash, stomach irritation, runny nose, watery eyes, and throat inflammation are some of the possible fiberglass poisoning symptoms.

What should I apply on the skin to avoid skin irritation that results from fiberglass contamination?

If you are experiencing skin irritation or swelling due to coming in contact with fiberglass, you may apply topical corticosteroids or emollient creams such as E45 or Eucerin. These products help soothe the dry skin and heal the affected area.

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