Asbestos is a type of mineral fiber that is often used as an additive to a variety of products. It is used to strengthen and to provide heat insulation because it is heat resistant. Some of the industrial products made with asbestos include the following: roofing tars, felts, shingles and siding; fireproofing; gaskets; plasters and stuccos; vinyl floor tiles, adhesives, ceiling tiles and sheeting; mud and texture coats; clutch plates; brake pads and shoes; fire blankets; putty; and acoustical ceilings
Indeed, the uses of asbestos are many. However, as early as 1898, the United Kingdom’s Chief Inspector of Factories, in his Annual Report, informed Parliament about asbestos dangers – that is, the microscopic particles of asbestos present in the air.
In 1906, the first asbestos deaths in British factories were confirmed by a British Parliamentary Commission. It appears that the asbestos fibers, when inhaled, can enter the lungs and cause complications and diseases, such as asbestosis (scarring of the lung tissue), mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelial lining of the lungs), and cancer of the larynx, stomach, pharynx, and colorectal area.
As a result of these known asbestos dangers, the use of the mineral in industries had to be stopped. Still, many of the buildings and homes built before or in the 1970’s used asbestos, so the general stoppage of its use in industries does not necessarily free you from asbestos dangers.
Phase I of Environmental Assessment of Buildings often include an asbestos check to determine if a building or a house uses materials containing asbestos. Some common products that may be considered as a source of asbestos dangers include:
Steam Pipes, Furnace Ducts and Boilers
Constructions of this type made in the 1970’s are insulated with blankets or paper tapes made from asbestos. An asbestos danger may arise if these materials are removed improperly, damaged or repaired.
Resilient Floor Tiles, Vinyl Sheet Flooring and Adhesives
Resilient floor tiles are made with a combination of asphalt, rubber and vinyl asbestos. These, along with vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives, may cause asbestos danger when the fibers are released in the air through scraping or sanding. Moreover, the back of the sheet during removal may also cause asbestos danger.
Cement Sheet, Paper and Millboard
These materials are used for insulating the furnaces and wood burning stoves and thus contain asbestos. When repairing or removing these appliances, asbestos danger occurs as the fibers are released in the air. There can also be asbestos danger if you cut, tear, sand, drill or saw the insulation.
Most construction materials today no longer use asbestos and instead use other alternatives in order to avoid asbestos danger.