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Is the Fiberglass (in the Sound Absorbtive Panels) Dangerous to Your Health ?


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Haha. Rest easy, fiberglass is relatively safe. Direct contact with fiberglass and it's dust can cause minor throat, nose, eye, and skin irritation in the form of itchiness. The burlap works extremely well as a barrier to keep the fibers in place, while allowing sound waves to enter the acoustic material. There are cancer warnings on the labels of fiberglass, however if you read them you'll find that you'd have to be fully exposed, living in, rolling around in, eating, and drinking fiberglass to have any possible negative health risks...aside from itching.

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With all due respect to ProgRock11 - fiberglass fibers may very well be considered the new asbestos down the road. My day job is in construction at a large hospital complex, and I can't think of a more 'over-regulated' industry than healthcare. We have to go through about 20-30 hours of safety training every year. A couple hours of that is dedicated to asbestos abatement. The instructor is pretty over-zealous in his views on asbestos safety - but then again he knows a lot more about it than any of us. Microscopic views of fiberglass fibers is not too much different than that of asbestos - they both have hooked/jagged edges which cause them to stick to the inner lining of the lungs, digestive track, etc.

Asbestos fibers themselves are not carcinogenic. They simply lodge themselves into your lung tissue. Your body attacks them as a foreign body and as a result builds scar tissue around the fiber/lung tissue. Since fiberglass fibers can also lodge in the lung tissue it's entirely possible that they can also cause similar problems and make it difficult to tell the difference during a biopsy.

The bright side is that it takes over 30 years to develop mesothelioma after inhaling fibers, the down side is it's untreatable. Millions of people have worked with asbestos and/or fiberglass all of their lives and have never had a problem. Others seem to develop problems after very limited exposure. And if you think of all the places you can come in contact with asbestos or fiberglass fibers you would want to wear a respirator 24/7. Ceiling tiles, floor tiles, mineral fiber, brake pads, attic insulation, and a million other places that you can come in contact with it every day. If you're one of the more succeptible ones you're probably already screwed (though you won't know it for 30 years) but no reason to have a shitty sounding room for the next 30 years.

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Batting (the stuff used in quilts) can be used to wrap the panel, then fabric over that. It increases the price per panel a lot, but it works great to keep the fiberglass where it needs to be, and has the added bonus of keeping the fabric taught and nice looking.

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Of course fiberglass exposure is unhealthy... No question.

 

Awesome as they are Ethan/Gervais have faith in "absolute knowledge" no one really has, but to be fair to them they are using the best data available, so... Fact is no one can say for sure what inhaling the fibers may contribute to, etc.

 

I believe formaldehyde was phased out. Nonetheless there are long term "exhaust" fumes from fiberglass as they release various agents used in the production process.

 

Fact is that there is absolutely nothing healthy about fiberglass for humans. The strands enter your lungs. What do they do once there? What can they contribute to? No one will ever know. Why be another guinea pig?

 

On the other hand if you are setting a real trap in the corner of a regularly ventilated space and then never going anywhere near it for the next 2 years I doubt you are being exposed to much of anything that compares to the harms you are already exposed to on a daily basis.

 

It's relatively benign in context.

 

So don't fear fiberglass but treat it with respect IMO. Foam (my choice) probably also releases fumes over time. Plastic is probably no healthier in terms of material exposure than fiberglass in the long run anyhow -- they're identifying all sorts of harms now from plastic exposure -- Bisphenol A is only the tip of the iceberg.

 

To be clear Rod Gervais and Ethan are probably the definitive sources on this and my opinion is that they are both incredibly clever and morally decent people -- so those are the guys to listen to vis-a-vis "the other side" of the story.

 

P.S. I built some traps out of reclaimed paper fiber (slurry of powdered newspaper) this summer and they work great. Free. To this very day a friend with a commercial studio is using them at his place. :)

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Batting (the stuff used in quilts) can be used to wrap the panel, then fabric over that. .

 

much in favor of this idea----but How Does the quilt batting affect the function of the panel?

 

 

UstadKhanAli :If you're using fiberglass for sound insulation, cover it. End of problem.

I was happy with the burlap until I actually started building with it. Burlap -- have some serious doubts about it, perhaps the weave i got was especially loose. Thanks for the reassurance though .

 

I am not a Wave physicist, but since its "taking" the sound, i wonder about some of the micro glass dust "shaking" loose. I don't advocate loud listening levels often, but on occasion I do (with ear protection) shake the walls--that catharsis thing....so if the walls are moving, then the panels are shaking too

 

 

but no reason to have a shitty sounding room for the next 30 years.

 

 

Music Calgary P.S. I built some traps out of reclaimed paper fiber (slurry of powdered newspaper) this summer and they work great. Free

 

Is this documented on this board? May I PM? Very much appreciate the insights from all.

 

 

Regards to all,

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much in favor of this idea----but How Does the quilt batting
affect the function of the panel?

They work just as well with the quilting stuff in there. There are tighter knit fabric options too other than burlap. As long as you can breath through the fabric pretty easy, and the fabris isn't too shiney looking, you should be fine.

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Music Calgary P.S. I built some traps out of reclaimed paper fiber (slurry of powdered newspaper) this summer and they work great. Free


Is this documented on this board? May I PM? Very much appreciate the insights from all.

 

No.

 

I was involved in some research on recovering usable stuff from the municipal waste stream and one of the things we ended up with was newspaper/junkmail slurry.

 

So it can be any density depending on the treatment.

 

For really dense stuff put some old newspaper in a container with water and leave it. Stir it a few times per day. It will disintegrate after a period of days, and even start to ferment internally -- at this point it takes on a gluey consistency. This stuff is really dense when dried in a mold.

 

For less dense stuff do not leave it as long, put it in the mold when it's still in big chunks.

 

If you add Borax it's fire and pest proof.

 

Easy to make any shape or size. Free. Very effective. Wish I could test them...

 

I made a bunch of tiles from it and a local commercial studio uses them to this day. :thu:

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If you're using fiberglass for sound insulation, cover it. End of problem.

 

This seems simplistic, but it's the most accurate answer thus far. If it's covered it's just not a big problem. You're exposed to many more dangerous particles, substances, et al everyday while you're walking around downtown. We ingest much more in terms of potentially harmful bacterium, pollutants and pesticides in our food and water supply than you would from 18 properly built and covered panels.

 

On the other hand, I wouldn't leave 'em uncovered just laying around either, if for no other reason because coming in bare-skin contact with them will make you itch like crazy until next week. Very unpleasant.

 

Frank

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I can't think of any other application where fiberglass is put *inside* a living breathing space, thats all. (its usually out of the way, and I have to wonder if there's a reason...)

 

Do a google search on "duct liner" and "flex duct" - it's used in air conditioner ducts all over the place... and since you have air flowing directly past that, chances are you have fibers in the air in your home already...

 

However, while it's probably nothing like asbestos, it's still not something I want to breathe any more of than I have to, and who knows? There may indeed be health concerns with it. As long as you encapsulate it in another material (such as burlap), and wear long sleeves, gloves and a mask when installing it, you'll probably be fine.

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BTW, Music Calgary, what are you using for the "molds"?

 

I went to a foam manufacturer near here and gave him the specs. He charged me $15 each to make some excellent rectangular tile molds out of 2 lb. density foam.

 

If you try to cure this stuff in plastic. etc. they take a long time to dry. Foam is the best way. And there's a lot of material shrinkage during curing so it's also a matter of making a few to learn how much extra to leave on top -- to account for that.

 

The texture is really nice, looks like stone and takes paint superbly. If you paint it black it looks just like slate. :)

 

Cuts well too. No dust... No health issues, it's mostly soy ink.

 

The finally density will shock you. These tiles are super heavy though they don't look it. I've heard the results, this stuff definitely absorbs bass at the right dimensions. :thu:

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Here's a few close-up photos of the tiles after actual installation in a studio -- they look awesome... (this is just straight paint, quickie job -- used wood panel to add texture to the top 2)

 

3cad0f316e.jpg962ef20d9c.jpgcacccc4e43.jpg

 

That texture on the bottom which looks like slate is the easiest "default" texture this stuff takes on by itself... It looks great in any color -- it's not as shiny as my flash makes it seem in the photo, from 5 feet away you would swear it's real stone. Fits into almost any interior. Real easy to do faux wood or metal with this stuff too... :)

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Hey Music Calgary, do you think you could possibly make a tutorial on this newspaper slush you've created as a substitute if you have time? If it works as well as you say, this could save many of us a lot of $$ I'm sure more people than me would appreciate it.

 

Thanks!

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NO way I'd open myself up to the criticism that would attract here. :)

 

I'm not making any claims about anything -- just saying it's something I did which, anecdotally, myself and some of my friends liked...

 

In terms of how we did it, it's easy. Try this as a micro-version. Take a sheet of newspaper. Rip it up and put it into a glass of water, leave it at room temperature. Stir it with a fork each day, try to mush it up. By a week it will be fine and gluey. Pour it into a strainer and let it dry. Whoomp there it is.

 

You can do it instantly in a blender but the chemical process which causes it to become gluey won't be there.

 

We did it on a slightly larger scale but that's the concept. Office paper works fine too but it has a different texture so you need to do a test batch and make sure you're getting the consistency you want.

 

FWIW it doesn't seem like you need to get the stuff very fine. We made some with newsprint that was still in huge chunks and not disintergated at all -- they seem to work great albeit cosmetically they were somewhat inconsistent by comparison.

 

Like I say, I can't account for these or quantify the effects. I would love to send a set of these traps to Ethan or someone similarly keen to find out but alas it would not be economical to do properly.

 

Bottom line though you can make them any size or "stack tiles" for thickness -- and no matter what the science is, sooner or later dense fiber is going to soak up bass. :thu:

 

P.S. this stuff can also be applied to a surface a la fiberwall, i.e. if you throw it at a wall and let it dry it clings somewhat -- so it can be used to eliminate corners, etc.

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Ha, yeah I know what you mean. Its kinda funny that a forum that is here for people to learn, is crippled by many of its elitist users who just spend too much time here bitching at people.

 

But still, thanks. I'm sure with all the info you've provided that I can get things going and see what happens. Really, its much appreciated.

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