Health assessment of mineral wools on the basis of bio solubility

Insulating materials made of mineral wool have been used since the beginning of the 20th century as rock wool or glass wool for heat, fire and sound insulation purposes. From the beginning, the most important areas of application were the thermal insulation of residential and industrial buildings as well as the technical insulation of pipelines and boilers.

The importance of mineral wool insulation materials is likely to increase, as both the German government and the European Union want to drastically reduce energy consumption.

The Federal Government set concrete targets, for example in the Energy Saving Ordinance, which came into force on 1 May 2014. According to this, the insulation of newly constructed buildings must be improved by 20 %. Without insulating materials such as mineral wool, this goal will probably remain unattainable.

And: There are insulating materials made of mineral wool that are harmless to health. They bear the RAL quality mark, the "Reichsausschuss für Lieferungsbedingungen" (Reich Committee for Delivery Conditions), founded in 1925. Today RAL is an organisation for quality requirements and their control. But for a long time it was disputed whether fibre dusts from mineral wool posed a health risk.
The background was the so-called fibre discussion, which was triggered in the 1970s and 1980s by the health damage caused by asbestos fibres. It should already be pointed out at this point that the discussion of the health assessment of mineral wool was always related to occupational health and safety, i.e. to those persons who come into regular contact with insulating materials over a long period of time.

The current assessment is closely linked to the question of their bio-solubility, i.e. how quickly inhaled fibre dusts from insulating materials are removed from the lungs by the various defence mechanisms.

This development and its background are explained in the following article.