Health concerns about spray-on fireproofing

Published on by Commercial Painting Services

Fireproofing Mi employees are among many trades that are exposed daily to spray-on fireproofing. The materials used for fireproofing can be quite dangerous because of the asbestos contents. Apart from asbestos, fireproofing materials contain other potentially toxic materials.

What are the components of spray-on fireproofing?

Fireproofing that is applied by spraying is made up of fibrous materials or cement-like or a combination of both. Commonly used materials in spray-on fireproofing include slag wool, gypsum, vermiculite and Portland cement. Other ingredients in spray-on fireproofing include mica, fuller’s earth, bauxite, calcium hydroxide, carbon black and kaolin clay. These materials are combined with chemical accelerators to speed up hardening. Formulations may change and the best ways to know the exact components of any fireproofing product is to request a material safety data sheet.

How is fireproofing dangerous to health

Most fireproofing Mi employees say that fireproofing materials can be irritating to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract including the throat, lungs and nose. Fireproofing Mi workers who spray or work around fireproofing materials have reported bronchitis, nosebleeds, sinus infections, asthma, sore throat, flu-like symptoms, eye irritation, cough, sneezing, itchy and dry skin and shortness of breath. Corrosive ingredients in raw products such as lime, cement and alum may also cause chemical burns. Nowadays, fireproofing materials contain no or little asbestos and it is not likely to cause cancer and the previous ones.

The health effects of fireproofing depend on your dose as with any chemicals. There have been a few studies of worker exposure. Extremely high levels of total and alkaline dust were measured in a study conducted during the mixing of fireproofing materials. Other than mixing, a few studies have shown that silica and some mineral wool fibers are generally below the recommended guidelines. The highest exposures have been reported in sprayers. Below are some components that have long term effects to your health.

Crystalline silica

Crystalline silica like quartz are found in small amounts in Portland cement and could be contaminant of gypsum, mica, limestone, kaolin clay, vermiculite and other mined minerals. When you are overly exposed to crystalline silica, you can have silicosis and lung cancer.

Portland cement

Portland cement in addition to silica contains small amounts of hexavalent chromium and this is a potential cancer causing agent. Cement is corrosive and it contains hexavalent chromium hence it can also cause skin allergies and skin rashes.

Mineral wool and fiber glass

These components are considered to be cancer causing agents by some agencies. There have been recent studies on workers exposed to fibers however; the studies have not supported increased levels of cancer and this lead to the international agency for research on cancer to withdraw the classification of these two as possible cancer causing agents.


It is found in many construction products like plaster, cement and drywall. It is widely used and there has been little research on its potential long term health risks. There have been no serious health effects revealed

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