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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
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: 29 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 um; diameter <3 um;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)
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC): Group 3, Not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans [43 KB PDF, 11 pages]
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
- Reclassification by the IARC of rock and slag wool from Group 2B (possibly carcinogenic to humans) to Group 3 has remained controversial.
- 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.
- 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.
- OSHA has a Safety and Health Topic on Synthetic Mineral Fibers, including voluntary worker protection programs.
- 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
Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SLC1):
- sampling media: 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.
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