Insulation materials look the same but have different hazards

Image for Insulation materials look the same but have different hazards

Type:  Lessons Learned

Publisher:  National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, CO (NREL - STM Campus)

Published As:  Public


Topics:  Respiratory Protection, Maintenance, Work Management/Planning

Legacy Copy - NREL Only - FY15 Jun
Workers from the Field Test Laboratory Building (FTLB) were tasked with removing Kaowool insulation that had been installed on a Thermal Cracker for over 10 years. The Environment Health and Safety Point of Contact (POC) required that the workers involved in the activity wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) appropriate for working with Kaowool insulation. The PPE precautions proved to be appropriate since one worker had an exposure concentration measured outside the respirator that was above the ACGIH TLV for Refractory Ceramic Fiber. Visual inspection of the Kaowool shows no obvious differences with another insulation that is used at NREL, Superwool Plus. Both insulation materials have similar performance characteristics, but the airborne exposure limit for Superwool is five times greater than the exposure limit for Kaowool. Lessons Learned: There is a wide range of insulating materials available, some less hazardous than others. Two materials that look exactly the same may have different hazards associated with them. Know the hazards of each type of material and use correct PPE for each hazard type. (Originally published via PNNL system.)

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