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Mineral Wool Fiber

General Description

  • Synonyms: Manmade mineral fibers, Rock wool, Slag wool, Synthetic vitreous fibers [Note: Produced by blowing steam or air through molten rock (rock wool) or various furnace slags that are by-products of metal smelting or refining processes (slag wool).]
  • OSHA IMIS Code Number: 1781
  • NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: PY8070000
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Mineral Wool Fiber: chemical description, physical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more

Exposure Limits

  • OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL):
    • General Industry: 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-3 - Inert or Nuisance Dust - 15 mppcf, 5 mg/m3 (Respirable Fraction); 50 mppcf, 15 mg/m3 (Total Dust)
    • Construction Industry: CFR 1926.55 Appendix A Inert or Nuisance Particulates - 50 mppcf (or 15 mg/m3 whichever is the smaller) of total dust < 1% SiO2
    • Maritime: 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards - Inert or Nuisance Particulates - 50 mppcf (or 15 mg/m3 whichever is the smaller) of total dust <1% SiO2

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV): 1 f/cc TWA; Fibers longer than 5 µm diameter <3 µm; aspect ration > 5:1 as determined by the membrane filter method @ 400-450X magnification (4-mm objective) phase contrast illumination. Appendix A3 - Confirmed Animal Carcinogen with Unknown Relevance to Humans (TLVs listed under Synthetic Vitreous Fibers - Glass, Rock, or Slag Wool Fibers)

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL): 3 fibers/cm3 TWA (fibers with diameter < or = 3.5 µm & length > or = 10 µm.); 5 mg/m3 TWA (total)

Health Factors

  • Carcinogenic Classification:
  • Potential Symptoms: Irritation of eyes, skin, nose, throat; dyspnea (breathing difficulty); sore throat; skin redness, itching; eye redness, pain, itching
  • Health Effects: Irritation-Eye, Nose, Throat, Skin---Moderate (HE15)
  • Affected Organs: Eyes, skin, respiratory system
  • Notes:
    1. Reclassification by the IARC of rock and slag wool from Group 2B (possibly carcinogenic to humans) to Group 3 has remained controversial.
    2. It has been suggested that, in susceptible workers, exposure to rock wool or glass fibers may result in a chronic granulomatous lung disease similar to chronic beryllium disease.
    3. Among the most frequent causes of occupational irritant contact dermatitis in Finland, synthetic mineral fibers ranked 12th. Workers with the highest risk were carpenters, building workers and insulation workers.
    4. OSHA has a Safety and Health Topic on Synthetic Mineral Fibers, including voluntary worker protection programs.
  • Literature Basis:
    • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards: Mineral Wool Fiber.
    • International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO): Rock wool.
    • International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO): Slag wool.
    • Drent, M., Bomans, P.H., Van Suylen, R.J., Lamers, R.J., Bast, A. and Wouters, E.F.: Association of man-made mineral fibre exposure and sarcoidlike granulomas. Respir. Med. 94(8): 815-820, 2000.
    • Jolanki, R., Mäkinen, I., Suuronen, K., Alanko, K. and Estlander T.: Occupational irritant contact dermatitis from synthetic mineral fibres according to Finnish statistics. Contact Dermatitis 47(6): 329-333, 2002.
    • Wardenbach, P., Rodelsperter, K., Roller, M. and Muhle, H.: Classification of man-made vitreous fibers: comments on the revaluation by an IARC working group. Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 43(2): 181-193, 2005.

    Date Last Revised: 11/03/2005

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SLC1):
  • Tared 37-mm diameter low-ash polyvinyl chloride filter
  • maximum volume: 480 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 2.0 L/min
  • current analytical method: Gravimetric
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA PV2121)
  • method classification: Partially Validated
  • note: OSHA personnel can obtain tared sampling media from the Salt Lake Technical Center (SLTC).

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