Asbestos has been widely used due to its ability to withstand extreme heat and function as an insulator. For these reasons, it was popular in construction and manufacturing for many decades through the late 1900s. Asbestos has been an ingredient in products ranging from consumer goods to commercial and industrial products.
Any system that generated heat (electrical or fire-based) is likely to have been built with asbestos, especially before the 1970s. Electrical systems were insulated with asbestos because it is extremely flame resistant and an effective insulator for both electricity and heat. Even when a system failed, potentially resulting in a fire, asbestos lining could isolate electrical systems and help prevent a catastrophic outcome.
Asbestos was used in many household products for its insulative properties or to protect a product from high heat or to confer fire resistance. Potholders, clothing, blankets and even mattresses have been made with asbestos in the past. In the 1950s, asbestos was briefly used in some cigarette filters. Although asbestos is no longer used in any of these products, each of these things have been made with asbestos at one time.
Perhaps the best-known use of asbestos is in construction. For decades, asbestos was a common component in both acoustic and heat insulation materials, roofing shingles, ceiling tiles and counter tops.
Because asbestos is no longer used in these products, new products are likely to be safe with regard to asbestos exposure. However, older products, particularly those used in the construction of older buildings, may still contain asbestos. Consumer products manufactured prior to the 1970s that were designed to be flame retardant or insulative may contain asbestos. Due to the presence of asbestos in older products, proper precautions should be taken when handling certain older insulative fabrics and particularly when working with older construction materials or during building renovations.
If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos-containing products, contact us.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. What Is Asbestos? http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/asbestos/more_about_asbestos/what_is_asbestos. Accessed June 22, 2014.