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  1. #1
    Andy Jarchow's Avatar
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    Default Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Hello all,

    When you are able to walk an attic do you wear a face mask of some kind?

    What if you see exposed vermiculite do you still walk the attic? Do you have a special mask for asbestos?

    I read an archived posts on walking attics and noticed most of you do. I do if I can see where Iím walking. I took the home inspection master course through AHIT institute and they told us not to walk in any attic if you canít see where youíre placing your foot or causing damage to the insulation and other unseen components. Your client does not own that house yet. If the deal falls through (no pun intended) you just destroyed the R value of the ownerís insulation where you walked. Just had to put my 2 cents worth on that topic. In WI the insulation can be pretty deep.

    Thank you
    mk

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Krueger View Post
    [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3] I took the home inspection master course through AHIT institute and they told us not to walk in any attic if you canít see where youíre placing your foot or causing damage to the insulation and other unseen components. Your client does not own that house yet. If the deal falls through (no pun intended) you just destroyed the R value of the ownerís insulation where you walked.
    Looks like I would fail that master course. I destroy the R value of the insulation in every attic I see.

    I don't wear a mask for much of anything except the worst crawlspaces although I'm starting to change my thiniking on that. But regarding the decision to walk or not walk an attic, that is the personal choice of each inspector and how comfortable we feel walking in an attic with no floor decking. But, there is a lot you won't see if you only hang out by the access hatch.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    I wear a basic mask. The insulation doesn't bother my skin much at all, but it really bugs my throat. I'm with Nick, I walk or crawl every attic. You can feel the trusses under your feet if it's blown in insulation. The only time I ever went through the rock was in a garage that had no insulation at all, go figure.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  4. #4
    imported_John Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    I think its a good idea to where a mask, but in these 130F+ attics in Houston, it is almost suicidal.

    I love these guys that do the new homes with blown in insulation and the little cardboard measuring devices. The seem to fold them over about 4" on the bottom. My tape measure and these devices dont ever seem to match.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    HEY GUYS

    look at your picture of the attic insulation when you do report. see all that snow flying around. you are sucking that stuff into your lungs, and guess what you can never get fiberglass or any of that stuff out of your lungs.

    wear a mask. go to Gas detectors | Thermal Imaging Cameras and buy a half respirator $15 bucks with purple cannister. stay alive for your kids and for your waning sex life

    when i doudt--be careful and healthy

    and walk where you can see---WOOD


    charlie


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    I wear a mask about 50% the time in the attic and about 95% of the time in the crawl.

    I walk attics only if I can maintain 3-points of contact, if they do not have walk boards. That would be two feet and one hand holding onto somthing. As soon as you go to 2-points of contact you stand a good chance of falling through....

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  7. #7
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    No mask

    I tried it in crawls off and on for years and in attics and you just cannot breath or heat up so much you might as well just shoot yourself.


  8. #8
    Andy Jarchow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    No mask

    I tried it in crawls off and on for years and in attics and you just cannot breath or heat up so much you might as well just shoot yourself.
    LOL


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Krueger View Post
    If the deal falls through (no pun intended) you just destroyed the R value of the ownerís insulation where you walked.

    Mike,

    See, that is where experienced home inspectors have the experience factor behind them and KNOW that THEY only walked in THE SAME foot prints as the last person through the attic ... THEY did not destroy the R value of the insulation ... the last person through before them did ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Always in attics on pre-1980 houses due to asbestos concerns... rarely on newer ones unless I have to go to the truck for my knee pads anyway.

    Crawl spaces I always do becasue of the dust and dirt I kick up.

    I walk as many attics as I can without doing too much damage to the insulation - it's really a case by case basis. I have a method of feeling the rafter or truss chord with my foot before I step down on it. I have to make sure I'm not stepping on an electric cable or pipe.


  11. #11
    Andy Jarchow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Mike,

    See, that is where experienced home inspectors have the experience factor behind them and KNOW that THEY only walked in THE SAME foot prints as the last person through the attic ... THEY did not destroy the R value of the insulation ... the last person through before them did ...
    I see


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    If you are in an attic once a month and breath in some of the particles for 5 minutes or so, this will not be good for you but isn't likely to harm you much in the long run.

    When you are in an attic every day for 10 minutes or more, you better protect yourself.

    Why is asbestos such a big deal? You never hear of homeowners with asbestos related diseases or complications. Who were the ones that have all the issues?? The people who worked with it..

    Is it worth shortening your life or causing respiratory issues that make life miserable?

    Not for me, MSA makes a nice half face that can accept a low profile P100 filter which is asbestos rated. Paper dust masks do not work in this environment.. It may seem like trouble, but at least I'm not hacking up attic debris at the end of the day.

    And, no, I would not disturb blown in insulation, unless someone else has already done it for me.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    We're supposed to check the attic's?















    April fool's


  14. #14
    Andy Jarchow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Ya got me for a second Rick.

    Thank you all for your advice. I just ordered a MSA half mask with the p100 filters from amazon for 28.04.

    Have a great Easter!
    mk


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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    A mask is a necessity for safe inspecting to protect ones health, I believe. Everyone, lawyers, the media and so on makes a big deal about asbestos but as was pointed out earlier in the thread, if you catch a ray of sunlight highlighting all that floating debris in an attic, what do you suppose THAT is? It debris is a combination of years of fine dust as well as insulation particles, in older homes, and not so many years of fine dust and, most likely, fiberglass shreds in newer homes. Never mind the rodent and bird deposited stuff in some attics over the years!

    I think, the next big lawsuit wave by ambulance chasers may be against the fiberglass insulation mfgs. for making a product that can become friable and give off fibers that "unsuspecting" and "unknowing" people are harmed by.

    Yup, a half face dust mask only makes sense, IMHO.

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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    hey when and if you make that insurance claim of lung damage to your insurance company. wonder if they will ask if you wore a mask???

    they are more sly the we

    cvf


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Quote Originally Posted by CHARLIE VAN FLEET View Post
    hey when and if you make that insurance claim of lung damage to your insurance company. wonder if they will ask if you wore a mask???

    they are more sly the we

    cvf
    And you never say "Yes, all the time." as no one ever does anything ALL the time, and saying so means you just lied, albeit it you may really do it "almost" all the time, just not doing it once makes "all the time" an incorrect answer.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  18. #18
    Mark Aakjar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    There are definetly times I wish I did wear a mask before entering an attic. Two weeks ago I entered an attic In a 25yo house that had the old style air fan that vented directly into the attic it was like walking on the surface of the moon.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    My deadly Telesteps has a carrying strap. I attached a snap hook to the strap for my mask. So I might break my neck, but I'll be breathing!
    I often (but not "always") go back down the ladder after opening the hatch cover. Get my light, camera, let the dust settle a bit. Oh yeah, put on my mask.

    In my area, there's never any HVAC in the attic. Guess nobody's thought of that up here.
    If there's no evidence of a problem and I can see 80-90% of the attic from the hatch, there's no need to go shuffling thru all that dusty fluff. I just report "viewed from the hatch" and go find trouble somewhere else.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    I wear a standard dust mask for attics and crawlspaces. I buy 20 packs at Home Depot for $20. As far as walking attics it just depends on conditions, height, clearance, insulation etc. If I have indications that problems may exist in I will take greater risk to find them. If and attic looks good and I have no indications of problems I may just inspect from the top of the access hatch shine and the 2 million candle power spot light around. It always just depends on conditions. I try to stay away from tromping through and damaging loose fill insulation just to say I walked the attic.


  21. #21
    Steve Karr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    No really, I always wear my half face APR. Lung protection is absolutely necessary, and putting on a respirator signals to the client to stay out. I don't think that it would be good for the client to fall through the 'rock either...


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    I am dismayed that workers are tempted to serve in dusty attics and crawl spaces, without a respirator. I think the need is of discovering something really comfortable. I have.

    I offer example to others that work in attics should not be dangerous. We may change rules nationally to require safe egress from an entry portal, to some minimum of safe standing. The alternative is invitation to booby trap to preclude inspection. I vote for a rule encouraging extensive walkways to service points over loose-fill insulation. There should be less full reliance on loose-fill. Batt insulation makes much better use of space under a walkway.

    I participated in a trade show last weekend, where wool home insulation was displayed. I suggested to the exhibitor that the promised dust-free environment might be offered to more homes, if the wool were only sections of covering blanket. I don't know of a more-affordable fabric that can stand the environment, but hope to be corrected.


  23. #23
    Gary Cox's Avatar
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    Talking Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    I did not read prior posts and sorry if I'm repeating anyone's prior thoughts.

    Wear a mask? You better wear one unless you want to take a chance your lungs know how to get rid of thousands upon thousands of glass particles. Our lungs were not designed to take on such a hit every day of the week. When you cough...and you will...your body is on the attack and making an "attempt" to bring the glass fibers out. Your body has silia (little wiggly things that move bad stuff up and out)...and defense mechinisms like nose hair to try keeping bad stuff out.
    You either put a filter over your face.... or.... you ARE the filter. WHere did I hear that one? Great line.

    Making footprints in the insulation? Don't worry about it. ONe day you might get a complaint saying they never saw you go in the attic...and you say...well go up there...you'll see my footprints!

    Stepping on stuff under insulation? As you go along doing inspections you'll learn to hold a truss for support and lower your feet into the insulation...and know the feel of a wooden truss cord under your feet versus a plastic pipe, bunch or wires etc. The other day.... I placed my foot down, felt something under my feet...pulled it out and found two handguns hidden.

    I've done thousands of inspections and never had a seller say a word about tracks in the attic...and anyone who claims they can prove the R-Value loss...in my book is full of it.
    Often the buyer is standing on my ladder looking in at me work (I allow it..but ask that they stay there)...and I've NEVER had anyone complain about the mess I make...in their new house.

    If they have a problem with it..good...saves me 15 minutes...I'll say attic inspection was limited by client request not to enter.

    Next time your in an attic...light off...turn your flashlight on...and look at the beam in front of you. See those glass particles??? Want those in your mask or in your lungs.

    Get a good 3M N95 mask as a minimum protector mask. They are small, easy to fit in your bag. Respirators are the best.
    I use a $15 3M N95 mask myself. I'm working toward a better mask.

    Remember also.... you will turn your light on up there every once in a while and have a truss system covered in mold staring at you. You'll be glad that mask is on.

    Man, don't take chances. You only have two lungs.
    Once you wear a mask for a while...it will be habit to reach into your bag and grab it.

    I used to come home hacking at night...did not realize it was the attics. After a mask...it stopped.

    I beleive the state of California has proclaimed fiberglass cancer causing. Heard that recently. We can laugh it off or take this seriously.

    Good luck. My 2 cents!
    Gotta run..two today. ZOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!

    One final note: I use a Cannon G10 camera for inspections. There is a setting (flash) I used to use and all my attic pictures were coming back with thousands of tiny little circles in the photo. It hit me staring at my monitor one night...OH MY GOD! Those are glass fibers shining fromt the flash!!!

    Last edited by Gary Cox; 04-02-2010 at 07:26 AM. Reason: Spelling and Grammer (I'm the worst)

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Yes I wear a mask. I need to get a real one soon!
    Guys, also be sure to wear a bump cap, or hardhat.
    When I first started, my head found an air nail in the roof sheathing.
    After that, no attic/crawl entry w/o head protection.

    Be safe!

    Also, I don't walk the entire attic. Here 99% of homes have service platforms in the attic.

    Dave Hill
    Buyers & Sellers Property Inspections LLC
    WWW.BuyersSellersPi.Com

  25. #25
    ray jackson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    As an HVAC technician, there are days when I live in attics. Masks are absolutely necessary. If I go into an attic without one, I know I will be coughing minimum 2 days after. Even the cheapest piece of garbage mask helps. I'm the service manager where I work and we do have guys that don't like to wear masks. Reading your posts I think I'll have the boss invest in some respirators. The increased comfort may change their minds.


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Since most attics that I inspect are vented via passive roof vents I make it a habit to crack open a window in the room nearest the hatch opening, lift the hatch out of the way and let the stack affect draft carry dust and particles up INTO the attic space away from where I am standing.

    In the northern climate I tried to not walk the attic if I didn't have to thereby avoiding creating voids in insulation where I stepped. If I felt I had to go in, I'd try to brush the low foot spots back full of insulation as I backed out. Lots of work!

    In the climate I am in now FAU's are nearly always in the attic and there is almost always 2. As such the space is required to have a light fixture and a minimum work and walk space around and to the units, among other things, for servicing.

    At first I thought this was great but after studying it, can see some draw backs. One is the requirement of a walkway. It's always made of OSB or plywood strips laid directly on the top of the bottom truss cord. The net result of this is there cannot be more than 6" of insulation in those areas instead of the 18" or so that there should be for best efficiency.

    Another is the fact that the FAU's and all the flexible ducting takes up so much space in the attic that inspecting more than about 30 to 40% of the framing and roof decking and insulation and so on, is very difficult to impossible.

    On the positive side, it's GREAT to have a real walk way to use in the attic! Those who have had to snake their way deep into a truss filled attic space to investigate a problem, hang there with feet wedged into the vee of the truss member joints while analyzing it, and then make their way back out again stretching from frame to frame of the trusses, know what I am talking about here!

    Also on the plus side here is the fact that having the gas fired furnaces in a well ventilated space instead of within the living space envelope greatly decreases the potential for CO problems in the home.

    I recently lost my 8 year old half face mask and after discovering they didn't make then any more, purchased a new 3M brand unit ($35), much like the one in the previous post. I am amazed! The new one fits better, is lighter, more compact and less hot to use than my old one! Technology advances with everything I guess!

    Personally I find the cheap cotton dust masks do not fit my face tightly and because exhale has to travel back through the filter, they tend to get moist and hard to breathe through very soon. The half face types have a separate exhale port that offers almost no resistance to breathing and vent moisture as well so the intake filter stays very dry and easily breathable.

    Last edited by Bob Knauff; 04-02-2010 at 12:12 PM.
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    If I can get my arse thru the attic hatch I walk or crawl down the center, or in the crotch of the web bracing end to end. There is no way in Hell a person can see everything in an attic from the access. Live leaks on the opposite side of a truss/rafter, disconnected exhaust fan ducting, open junction boxes, buried knob and tube, etc... If you don't go, you'll never know - until the phone rings 30-60 days later and the voice on the other ends says: " um, hi, you inspected our home a few weeks ago and now there is a big wet spot on my ceiling / carpet and we want to know what you are going to do about it."

    As for masks, I tried a respirator but it obstructs too much of my vision and make it hard to breathe on hot days, so I have just been using dust masks for the last 4 years in both attics and crawlspaces. Nobody lives forever, when it's your time to go, no matter how, where or when, you're gone!


  28. #28
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hintz View Post
    .
    Nobody lives forever, when it's your time to go, no matter how, where or when, you're gone!
    .
    .
    Thanks Jim For that Cheery Note.
    .

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  29. #29
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    I always wear a mask

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  30. #30
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    .
    .
    Thanks Jim For that Cheery Note.
    .
    Aww, come on Billy, you ain't afraid of reality are you?


  31. #31
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    My favorite teacher from high school lived her last years with oxygen, wanting death (emphysema from smoking). Free breathing to the end would be nice. No one, no amount of money, can undo some forms of carelessness. If it's willfully suicidal, and that can be, think of the draining medical cost impact on survivors.

    Would you risk telling an employee to be reckless?


  32. #32
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hintz View Post
    .
    Aww, come on Billy, you ain't afraid of reality are you?
    .
    I'm going to Start Playing Russian Roulette.
    * click it must not be my time.
    .
    .

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
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  33. #33
    Stephen Houmard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    In the summer here in Charleston SC. our atics will be 130 to 150 degree with 70 to 80 % humidity. Most of our air handlers are in there.
    We have half of our homes on slabs and the other half on crawlspaces. The crawl space may be 64 deg. Cool moist, when you go in after you have been in an attic you want to go to sleep. It is sooo funny, I have thought hard about falling asleep in a crawl space just for a nap.


  34. #34
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    And well you might nap when needed. After exhaustion in an attic, there might be medical need. A siesta makes sense for many, despite cultural shifts. Some days in an attic, I NEED a brief nap. Five minutes is all. Attain a yawn, and I am revived. I can do that in my respirator. Breathing is effortless. It could be for a night's sleep. Heck, maybe that is the cheaper cure for snoring. If I try it, I will let you know.


  35. #35
    Lee Stebbins's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Good Day,
    I am another new inspector working in So Cal. I question several seasoned inspectors and about 50% wear masks in the attic and almost 90% wear a respirator in the crawl space. Since I was new and no experience, I contacted 3M technical support and asked for their recommendation. For the attic, they suggested 3M model 8210 N95, which is a nose/mouth respirator. For the crawl space, they suggested 3M 7502 half face respirator using 3M 6006 multi-gas/vapor cartridge and 3M 5N11, N94 particulate pre-filter. The prefilter keeps the more expensive gas/vapor cartridge clean and filters all the fine dust. I found all these items at boss-safety.com.
    Lee


  36. #36
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Houmard View Post
    In the summer here in Charleston SC. our atics will be 130 to 150 degree with 70 to 80 % humidity. Most of our air handlers are in there.
    We have half of our homes on slabs and the other half on crawlspaces. The crawl space may be 64 deg. Cool moist, when you go in after you have been in an attic you want to go to sleep. It is sooo funny, I have thought hard about falling asleep in a crawl space just for a nap.

    Yep

    As the cockroaches and spiders and rats crawl over you looking for a snack. The earwigs laying eggs in your ears and eating out your brains


  37. #37
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Something to think about: when they studied the cause of Asbestos related cancer, they found that it was related to the size of the fibers, not necessarily the chemical make-up of asbestos. They actually were able to find the actual fibers (.8 microns and less as I recall in one study).
    The fiber punctures the individual (human lung) cell, it changes it genetically and causes that cell to go cancerous. (they found the actual asbestos particle embedded in the cancerous cell)

    Now think of fiberglass..., especially the newer blown type. How do you think it is possible for them to reduce the depth for an R-38 from 17 inches, 30 years ago, to 13-14 inches today? you do it by increasing the amount of "dead-air" spaces between the fibers. If you reduce the size of the fibers, you get more dead-air spaces and increase the R-value per inch.

    I have read where blown Fiberglass has higher concentrations of those "small fibers" than asbestos has. the jury is still out on this (safety) and will remain that way as long as there are enough lawyers to hammer this back and forth. (IMO)

    I have been an insulation contractor for over 25 years and we do not blow fiberglass because we don't want to risk our health by being exposed to a "Mineral Fiber" on a daily basis.

    Yep' ware a mask!


  38. #38
    Andy Jarchow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you wear a mask for attic inspections?

    Thank you all!


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