Industrial Hygiene Surveys of Occupational Exposures to Mineral Wool

September 1980
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 80-135

Exposures to mineral wool fibers, total suspended particulate material, respirable particulate material, and trace metals were evaluated among users and produces of mineral wool. Study methods included breathing zone air sampling with gravimetric, optical and scanning electron microscopy, and atomic absorption analyses to determine airborne concentrations. Samples of bulk materials were also analyzed. The production workers had relatively low exposures to all forms of airborne particulate material. The user workers had higher, but more variable exposures. Exposure to excessive noise levels were consistently found in the cupola areas of the production facilities. Heat stress was a potential hazard for the installers of blown mineral wool insulation. The author recommends that exposures to blowing wool installers and cupola operators be further evaluated, personal respiratory protection be provided for sprayed fireproofing workers, engineering measures be developed to improve the working conditions of the blowing wool insulation workers, and older material samples be analyzed to identify potential past exposures to small diameter fibers.