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Asbestos: Then and Now

Asbestos Raw.jpgAs early as the late 1800s Asbestos was mined and used in a variety of products. The Industrial revolution took flight and a place was found for this inexpensive fire resistant fiber. In the 1860s it was used as insulation in the U.S. and Canada. Development of the first commercial asbestos mine began in 1879 in the Appalachian foothills of Quebec. The use of asbestos increased greatly during WWII. It was used in shipyards, by manufacturers, and in almost every facet of construction. By the mid 20th century, uses included fire retardant coatings, concrete, bricks, pipes and fireplace cement, heat, fire, and acid resistant gaskets, pipe insulation, ceiling insulation, fireproof drywall, flooring, roofing, lawn furniture, and drywall joint compound.

DANGER SIGN GOOGLE.jpgDespite the ever increasing medical evidence of the dangers of asbestos exposure, the link to lung cancer, laryngeal, pharyngeal and colon cancer as well as non-malignant pulmonary conditions, the U.S. did not begin to regulate the use of asbestos till the late 1970s
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has banned the use of the following products in new construction and renovation:

  • Sprayed-on application of materials containing more than 1% asbestos to buildings, structures, pipes, and conduits unless the material is encapsulated with a bituminous or resinous binder during spraying and the materials are not friable after drying.
  • Wet-applied and pre-formed asbestos pipe insulation, and pre-formed asbestos block insulation on boilers and hot water tanks.
  • Corrugated paper, rollboard, commercial paper, specialty paper, flooring felt, and new uses of asbestos.

Asbestos still remains: Not only does asbestos remain from the days before the implementation of current day regulations, But there are still over three thousand products that could potentially contain asbestos today.

From the days before…Courthouses, older model homes, even the schools that house our very own children contain asbestos. Efforts at abatement have taken place across the United States, but often the sentiment is: If you do not disturb it or let it become airborne, it is not dangerous, so leave it where it is. Only the misfortune of a natural disaster that send asbestos debris hurling to the forefront or the occasional news flash of a group of judges being relocated from their chambers offers the not-so-gentle reminder that the dangerous mineral has not been vanquished.

Today...Although Under specific guidelines, and with very very specific handling guidelines outlined by OSHA, products are still being manufactured with asbestos. Products ranging from rocket heat shields used by NASA to your very own hairdryer may be made with asbestos. The brakes and clutches in your car, weather imported or made in the USA, may contain asbestos, as well as a variety of construction products still used in the industry today. In fact, there are over 30 U.S. companies that currently manufacture asbestos containing products. Moreover, with the advent of trade agreements, products from outside the United States that contain asbestos are now being introduced into the American consumer marketplace. The top seven ranked countries produce an amazing 2,067,290 metric tons of asbestos each year. Read the labeling on any product you buy or contact the manufacturer.


  • Chicago Metallic Corp.
  • Georgia-Pacific Gypsum LLC
  • Armstrong World Industries
  • Sherwin-Williams Co.
  • Berridge Metal Roof and Wall Panels
  • CECO Door
  • GAF, Nichiha USA, Inc.
  • Duro-Last Roofing, Inc.
  • Arch Wood Protection, Inc.
  • CertainTeed Insulation
  • CertainTeed Fiber Cement Siding
  • CertainTeed Roofing
  • Reefe Industries, Inc.
  • Ampco Products, Inc.
  • Roppe Corp.
  • Big D Metalworks
  • Plycern USA, Inc.
  • Wasco Products, Inc.
  • General Electric
  • Tecturn, Inc.
  • Custom Building Products
  • Republic Storage Systems, LLC
  • Maxxon Corp.
  • R.C. Musson Rubber Co.
  • Perfection Architectural Systems, Inc.
  • Specified Technologies, Inc.
  • Horner Flooring Co.
  • Florence Manufacturing Co.
  • Xypex Chemical Corp.
  • GRAHAM, Tubelite Inc.
  • Temple-Inland Gypsum Products
  • Forbo Linoleum and Flooring
  • Ardex Engineered Cements

medical reference books.jpgREFERENCES:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Continuing Restrictions on Certain Asbestos-Containing Products.” Federal Register 58, 213:58964 (November 1993).

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “EPA Asbestos Materials Ban: Clarification.” (May 1999). 12 July 2007.

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. “Bans of Consumer Patching Compounds and Artificial Emberizing Materials Containing Respirable Free-Form Asbestos. 16 CFR Parts 1304 and 1305 (August 2002). 12 July 2007.

Asbestos: Manufacture, Importation, Processing, and Distribution in Commerce Prohibitions; Final Rule (54 FR 29460, July 12, 1989) (FRL-3476-2) [PDF]

Asbestos; Manufacture, Importation, Processing and Distribution Prohibitions; Effect of Court Decision; Continuing Restrictions on Certain Asbestos-Containing Products (57 FR 11364, April 2, 1992) (FRL-4044-2) [PDF]

Asbestos; Manufacture, Importation, Processing and Distribution Prohibitions; Continuing Restrictions on Certain Asbestos-Containing Products (58 FR 58964, November 5, 1993) (FRL-4635-7) [PDF]

Technical Amendment in Response to Court Decision on Asbestos; Manufacture, Importation, Processing and Distribution Prohibitions; Technical Amendment (59 FR 33208, June 28, 1994)
(FRL-4776-7) [PDF]