NEWSWATCH
INHALATION HAZARD
NIOSH Evaluates Exposures to Aerogel Insulation Particulate
During a recent health hazard evaluation (HHE) of aerogel insulation particulate at a union training facility, NIOSH staff found that airborne exposures for amorphous silica, a component of aerogel insulation, approached calculated occupational exposure limits. The HHE was requested by a member of an insulators’ union who was concerned about particulate exposure from handling aerogel insulation. While visiting the facility, NIOSH personnel took personal air samples for components of aerogel insulation while an instructor applied the insulation. They found that airborne exposures for most of the components (crystalline silica, aluminum, iron, and titanium) were below the most protective OELs, though most of the particulate released during aerogel handling was respirable. The NIOSH team also found that the small size and angular shape of the airborne particles could contribute to the increased skin and respiratory irritation reported by staff at the facility. The NIOSH HHE report lists several recommendations for health and safety at the facility, including:
  • explore alternative cleansers that are more effective at removing aerogel from skin and which will not contribute to skin drying
  • because soap and water may not be effective, wash exposed skin with alternative cleansers immediately after handling aerogel insulation
  • provide staff and students with longer gloves to minimize skin exposure to aerogel insulation
  • continue to use personal protective equipment in accordance with the aerogel insulation manufacturer’s safety data sheets
View the full report as a PDF. Other NIOSH HHE reports are available on the agency’s website.
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