When Was Asbestos Used in Homes?
Asbestos was used in the construction of public buildings, businesses, and homes for a long period of time spanning around 100 years. While it was considered a safe and effective material for some time, it was eventually discovered to be dangerous, leading to numerous health problems.
However, buildings that had already been constructed often did not have the asbestos material removed, and many companies even continued to manufacture and sell asbestos containing materials after they were found to be a risk to public health.
This means that, even to this day, homes can contain harmful asbestos fibers that can lead to dangerous, and potentially deadly, diseases. And because asbestos is so difficult to identify without proper testing, many homeowners still have no idea that their house has asbestos contamination.
Why was asbestos used in homes?
Asbestos was a kind of wonder material when it was first discovered for use in construction – it was highly durable and resilient, and resisted both heat and harsh chemicals, making it perfect for use in kitchens, bathrooms, and hallways. Additionally, the material became popular as insulation due to its heat retaining and soundproofing properties, meaning it could be found in walls and roofs.
Because asbestos use was so widespread, with the Environmental Protection Agency stating that more than 30 million tons of it were used in an 80 year period, many houses today still contain it in some form. And unfortunately, much of the asbestos that currently sits in US homes remains unidentified.
How long was asbestos used in construction for?
Asbestos began to be used in construction in the last half of the 19th century, becoming more popular in the 20th century before it was eventually retired by most companies in the 1970s after occupational safety and health warnings were issued.
However, studies on the links being asbestos and deadly diseases were being produced as early as the 1920s. Additionally, while it is no longer used as commonly and is much more heavily regulated, the US is yet to ban this dangerous substance in construction or any other areas, such as the production of baby powder.
What asbestos containing materials were used?
Asbestos in the home was unfortunately utilized in a wide variety of building materials, from vinyl floor tiles and adhesives to roof and wall insulation and popcorn ceilings.
Here is just a brief list of some of the forms asbestos in the home can take, and where it can potentially be found:
Vinyl tiles, laminate and linoleum sheeting, and the adhesives used to stick these down
Vermicide insulation and loose blown-in insulation types
Socket collars, fuse lighting, backing for switchboard panels
Hot water pipes, coal and oil furnaces, boilers, door gaskets on heating equipment.
Roofing, shingles, textured paints, spray on popcorn ceilings
If your house was constructed before 1980 and has not undergone any significant renovations, there is a high chance that it may contain materials such as the ones listed above. If you suspect that you may have asbestos in your home, you should contain asbestos abatement professionals as soon as possible.
What companies manufactured these materials?
Many companies manufactured and sold asbestos materials during the century in which the substance was popularly used. Just a few of the most well-known include:
• A.B.B. Lummus Global Inc.
• A.P. Green Industries
• Armstrong World Industries
• Borg Warner Company
• Burnham Holdings
• C.E. Thurston & Sons
• Eagle Picher Industries Inc.
• Ehret Magnesia
• Ford Motor Company
• Foster Wheeler
• GAF Corporation
• General Electric
• General Motors
• Honeywell Heating
• Ingersoll Rand
• J.T. Thorpe Inc.
• John Crane
• Johnson & Johnson
• Kelly-Moore Paint Co.
• Kentile Floors
• Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing
• Mobil Oil Corporation
• North American Refractories
• Owens Corning Fiberglass
• Republic Powdered Metals
• Shook & Fletcher
• The Flintkote Company
• W.R. Grace
• Western MacArthur
• Westinghouse Electric
Evidently, using asbestos in your products could be lucrative in years gone by – though many of these companies faced bankruptcy down the line due to lawsuits from victims of asbestos exposure related health problems.
What are the risks of asbestos exposure?
The main risks of being exposed to asbestos are related to the microscopic asbestos fibers that can enter the air when asbestos containing materials are broken or moved.
When breathed in, these asbestos fibers become stuck in the lining of your lungs, leading to scarring that can become cancers such as the highly aggressive and deadly mesothelioma.
Because asbestos fibers are impossible to see or smell in the air, many people who experience asbestos exposure aren’t aware until it is too late – symptoms for diseases like mesothelioma often take decades to show, and the cancer is terminal by the time it is diagnosed.
Even less serious problems relatively speaking, such as chronic coughs and issues with breathing, can have a huge impact on the quality of life of an asbestos exposure survivor.
How do you identify asbestos materials in your home?
Asbestos in the home can be identified in a few different ways depending on the material you’re suspicious of. For instance, floor tiles will often appear to be greasy or discoloured if they contain asbestos, while asbestos insulation can sometimes cause dimpling in the surface of the material.
One of the difficulties of asbestos is that it is difficult to identify, and attempting to investigate yourself can release asbestos fibers into the air, causing you and your family harm.
If you think your home may have asbestos containing products, you should always contact an asbestos professional to perform testing and removal if necessary.
Can I seek compensation for an asbestos exposure related illness?
If you suffer from an asbestos related illness such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be entitled to compensation from the companies that carelessly manufactured the dangerous asbestos products that cause these problems. You can speak to us for a free legal consultation if you believe you may have a case.