What Is Fiberglass Attic Insulation?

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill
Tiny fibers in fiberglass insulation can be harmful if inhaled.
Tiny fibers in fiberglass insulation can be harmful if inhaled.

Fiberglass attic insulation refers to a material placed above ceilings and within attic spaces between trusses in order to hold heat and cold inside of a building or structure for the purpose of temperature control. It also helps keep air from the outside of a building from affecting the inside area. Fiberglass is a substance made from very thin strings or fibers of glass. These strings are then bundled together into a large roll or sheet of fiberglass so that it can be easily inserted where needed.

The use of fiberglass attic insulation is relatively popular because it’s inexpensive to use and at one time was considered less dangerous than certain other materials formerly used for insulation. There are various types sold featuring different densities and purposes, and they are commonly alternated between depending on the climate in a particular area. Buildings constructed in milder areas won’t require heavy-duty insulation because the temperatures stay fairly consistent year-round. Those constructed in locations which become very hot or very cold will need more protection.

In most cases, fiberglass attic insulation can be purchased at most home improvement and building supply stores. It is sold in large rolls or bundles and each bundle is covered with colored plastic. Many times the plastic coloring is coded to indicate the grade of the insulation inside. Sometimes the stores will also have “maps” or buying guides to let buyers know which insulation will work best for their needs and area. Many of these guides have maps on them with color coding for each region matching the insulation which should be purchased for that area.

Although fiberglass attic insulation was initially considered a safer option, there are many studies reporting that it can cause serious health complications if it’s breathed into the lungs. Small bits of fiberglass can easily shed from the main bundle and particles float through the air where they are easily inhaled in if installers are not using proper precautions. Under normal circumstances, the use of fiberglass insulation is not harmful for residents.

Since fiberglass attic insulation can be dangerous during the installation process or any time one moves the insulation around while walking through an attic, it is important to remain protected during this time. Workers should wear protective clothes including long sleeves, eye goggles, and facial masks. When it comes in contact with the skin, fiberglass attic insulation can cause itching and irritation, so precautions have to be taken against this as well.

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    • Tiny fibers in fiberglass insulation can be harmful if inhaled.
      Tiny fibers in fiberglass insulation can be harmful if inhaled.