Q:

1/5/2012
My son 5 year old had multiple allergies as a child and outgrew them. Now we moved in to condo. Since, we moved he had been having coughing, eye irritation, Sinus congestion in the home. He is okay, when he goes outside. The symptoms that I describe also affect all my family members but more so him. I have noticed fibers that look like from insulation settling down in the home and once we clean the home the symptoms improve. Later it accumulates soon and the symptoms reoccur. I understand that there is not much medical evidence to prove allergy to fiberglass. Is there anything that can prove the allergy to fiberglass?

A:

Thank you for your inquiry.

You are correct in that there are no published peer review data to my knowledge which document a respiratory allergic response to exposure to fiberglass. There is, however, a fairly rich body of literature on irritant contact dermatitis to fiberglass, and a rare report which incriminates fiberglass as a cause of systemic allergic dermatitis to fiberglass (see abstract copied below).

So, theoretically, fiberglass might have the potential to produce some specific immunologic reactivity. However, it is more likely that, if your son's rhinitis is related to exposure to insulation particles, it is irritant in nature.

However, there are many other causes of rhinitis, and certainly you have not ruled out indoor allergens that could be operative in the production of his symptoms.

Thus, it is my suggestion that you consider having him see a Board Eligible/Certified allergist in your geographic area. You can find a Fellow/Member of our Academy quite easily by going to our website and clicking on "Find an Allergist." From the description of your son's problem, this would be my recommendation.

Thank you again for your inquiry and we hope this response is helpful to you.

Cutan Ocul Toxicol. 2011 Sep;30(3):228-30. Epub 2010 Dec 29.
Systemic allergic contact dermatitis to fiberglass in a factory worker of wind turbine blades.
Nogueira A, Morais P, Cunha AP, Azevedo F.
Source
Hospital S. João, EPE, Department of Dermatovenereology, Alameda Professor Hernâni Monteiro, Porto, Portugal.
Abstract
Fiberglass is extensively used due to its properties of thermal, acoustic and electrical insulation, and also to reinforce other materials such as plastics. Irritant contact dermatitis to fiberglass is a well established occupational dermatose and is due to penetration of small fragments in the cornified layer of the skin. On the other hand, allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is rare and is more often triggered by sensitivity to the additives and resins used in the manufacture of fiberglass products. We report a case of ACD to fiberglass in a factory worker of fiberglass reinforced products.

Fiberglass is extensively used due to its properties of thermal, acoustic and electrical insulation, and also to reinforce other materials such as plastics. Irritant contact dermatitis to fiberglass is a well established occupational dermatose and is due to penetration of small fragments in the cornified layer of the skin. On the other hand, allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is rare and is more often triggered by sensitivity to the additives and resins used in the manufacture of fiberglass products

Read More: http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/15569527.2010.543944

Sincerely,
Phil Lieberman, M.D.

AAAAI - American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology