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Old 04-14-2013, 12:52 PM   #1
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Health impacts from having inhaled blown cellulose attic insulation?


I just had my 15 year old attic insulation (blow cellulose) fully removed and replaced the other day. During the removal the company vacuumed it out to a dumpster in the driveway. Much to surprise they did not have any kind of filter for the exhaust at the back of the dumpster. As such their was insulation flying everywhere to the point where it looked like it was snowing.

After they completed it looked to settle down outside but there was not much wind at the time nor was it raining. Inside the house was ok thankfully.
About 1 hour after the work completed I had to go outside and was stopped by my neighbor who is a bit of a chatty woman. We stood there for a good 15-20 mins. At that time I did not really see much in the way of visible particulates flying about. Normally I would have had the sense not to be out there but I had only slept an hour the night before due to work and was rather out of it.

The next morning and today however I seem to have a scratchy feeling and tightness in the lungs. No doubt there was still a fair amount of particulate airborne and I inhaled it. What's done is done I suppose but I am just curious what adverse health effects are known for inhalation of blown cellulose. Appreciate any feedback or information. Thank you.



TL;DR
- Inhaled airborne blow cellulose insulation particulate matter (~15 mins). What are the known adverse health effects from such an exposure? Thank you.

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Old 04-14-2013, 01:23 PM   #2
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Health impacts from having inhaled blown cellulose attic insulation?


I've never heard of long term health problems caused by cellulose, but it can bother some people. The main ingredient is recycled newspaper, cardboard, and magazines. But I doubt your sore throte has much to do with it. I would suspect that it has to do with your lake of sleep. And your paranoid about the cellulose.

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Old 04-15-2013, 06:55 AM   #3
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Health impacts from having inhaled blown cellulose attic insulation?


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Originally Posted by jsbuilders View Post
I've never heard of long term health problems caused by cellulose, but it can bother some people. The main ingredient is recycled newspaper, cardboard, and magazines. But I doubt your sore throte has much to do with it. I would suspect that it has to do with your lake of sleep. And your paranoid about the cellulose.
Thank you for your reply. I would agree that in most cases there would not be health issues as most people are not exposed to it since the cellulose has already settled in the attic since the home was build. In my case however the material was quite airborne.

Cellulose insulation contains borate and other chemicals at act as pesticides and fire retardants.

I would like to think I am not being paranoid but just rather concerned as I inhaled some amount. I have found the following links which are somewhat concerning:

http://www.mbm.net.au/uss/cellulose.html
http://www.ehow.com/about_6173833_health-risks-cellulose-insulation.html

Last edited by narby; 04-15-2013 at 08:14 AM.
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Old 04-15-2013, 07:59 AM   #4
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Health impacts from having inhaled blown cellulose attic insulation?


That is not proof of anything.

As of now there is no scientific proof of this.

Stop worrying and get on with life.
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Old 04-15-2013, 09:44 AM   #5
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Health impacts from having inhaled blown cellulose attic insulation?


Even if there are health risks, a one-time exposure is highly, HIGHLY unlikely to cause you anything more than very brief problems. Health risks from those kinds of things are from prolonged, repeated exposure, otherwise they wouldn't still be used (see : asbestos).
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:19 AM   #6
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Health impacts from having inhaled blown cellulose attic insulation?


Bobman is right on. Most building products contain chemicals that can be harmful in large doses over extended periods of time (ie: years, if not decades), and cellulose insulation is no different. Very safe, benign product in this application, and when applied correctly. It is possible that you would experience some irritation from breathing in a good chunk of the dust, but nothing more than that... There is probably more harm in the off-gassing from various items around your home, and certainly more in most of the delicious processed food that we eat.

... I also have to say that whether or not there is truth to the "stories" contained in that link, it is hardly a scientific study and should therefore not be given much credence. They are filled with incompetent workmanship, and a lack of common sense by multiple parties. Clearly, nobody should stay in their home for any amount of time if the have a 1/2" layer of loose insulation of any sort coating all of the surfaces.
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:32 AM   #7
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Health impacts from having inhaled blown cellulose attic insulation?


There has been zero long term studies on this so no one really knows what long term problems may happen if any. Borites in large amounts may cause short term problems but nothing to date has shown long term problems, because zero long term studdies have been done.
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Old 04-15-2013, 12:43 PM   #8
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Health impacts from having inhaled blown cellulose attic insulation?


If you continue to feel off, your breathing continues to be heavy, and the scratchy throat does not go away by all means get a throat culture and an x-ray. To do so is not being paranoid it is being prudent. Even if the insulation particulates have nothing in them supposedly harmful does not mean you might not be specifically senstitive or allergic. Do not let your fears be fueled by internet nonsense though.

My guess is also that you were tired and run down and got caught talking for too long outside with the chatty neighbor. And probably could have used at least a sweatshirt and a cap on in addition to what you were wearing?
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Old 04-15-2013, 12:49 PM   #9
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Health impacts from having inhaled blown cellulose attic insulation?


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If you continue to feel off, your breathing continues to be heavy, and the scratchy throat does not go away by all means get a throat culture and an x-ray. To do so is not being paranoid it is being prudent. Even if the insulation particulates have nothing in them supposedly harmful does not mean you might not be specifically senstitive or allergic. Do not let your fears be fueled by internet nonsense though.

My guess is also that you were tired and run down and got caught talking for too long outside with the chatty neighbor. And probably could have used at least a sweatshirt and a cap on in addition to what you were wearing?
True, and non of us are doctors that I know of so if your really worried about it contact your family doctor.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:22 PM   #10
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Health impacts from having inhaled blown cellulose attic insulation?


Good advice above. Despite the fact that I think the links posted and the issue in general is nothing to be concerned about, you should certainly take your health seriously and get checked out if it does not go away within a day or so.

There is actually quite a bit of research on boric acid/borates. It is not a "new" substance by any stretch. The predominant opinion/evidence is that it causes nothing more than irritation, whether it be the skin, throat, digestive tract, etc.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:39 PM   #11
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Health impacts from having inhaled blown cellulose attic insulation?


I would suspect the bigger issue is all the dust and dirt that collected over the 15 years.
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Old 04-16-2013, 08:31 AM   #12
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Health impacts from having inhaled blown cellulose attic insulation?


+1 ddawg.

The accumulated dirt in the insulation as well as some of the feces is probably the bigger issue.

I would get a Neti Pot and start flushing out whats up there and plan on having some black boogers.
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Old 04-16-2013, 12:42 PM   #13
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Health impacts from having inhaled blown cellulose attic insulation?


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+1 ddawg.

The accumulated dirt in the insulation as well as some of the feces is probably the bigger issue.

I would get a Neti Pot and start flushing out whats up there and plan on having some black boogers.

Thanks to you, ddawg16 and all for your comments. I actually did a few rinses of my sinus the morning after.

Indeed the accumulated dirt and no double mildew and mold would be as much of a concern. Sigh....If I had only put on an N95 mask but I did not anticipate this mess outside the home.

Still feeling some tightness in the lungs today but less.

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