You’ve likely heard of asbestos. You probably already know that it is a mineral fiber that naturally occurs in rock and soil.
While it sounds harmless enough, asbestos exposure can be seriously harmful to human health. In fact, repeated exposure to asbestos particles can lead to deadly cancers, such as mesothelioma.
Unfortunately, many industries in the United States have historically utilized asbestos for a number of different purposes. It may surprise you to learn that not all uses of asbestos are banned. The truth is that the majority of the purposes for asbestos use are perfectly legal.
Since the U.S. government has not issued a formal, widespread ban on asbestos, you can still find the substance used for several purposes today. Read on to learn more about some of the uncommon places where asbestos may be found.
It is not uncommon for attic and wall insulation to be produced with vermiculite. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral made up of shiny flakes and looks similar to mica.
Over 70% of the vermiculite sold in the United States from 1919 to 1990 came from a mine near Libby, Montana. At the time, the mine also had deposits of asbestos, which means all of the vermiculite that came from Libby contained asbestos.
Most of the insulation used in the U.S. has been produced using vermiculite from Libby and was typically distributed under the brand name Zonolite. If the insulation in your home contains vermiculite, it is most likely contaminated with asbestos. In such a case, it’s critical that you take the necessary steps right away to make sure that you and your family are protected from asbestos exposure.
Ethylene and chlorine are used to make vinyl, which is a plastic resin substance. Vinyl is solid but bendy, easy to clean, and cheap to install and replace. Vinyl products can also be nearly any color and texture, which allows the surface to look like wood, stone, and other standard building materials for just a small portion of the cost.
However, many types of vinyl floor tiles and the backing of vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives are contaminated with asbestos. The primary reason why asbestos was added to flooring, vinyl tiles, linoleum, and wallpaper is because of its fire-retardant properties. In addition, asbestos was added in an effort to increase the strength and insulation of the vinyl.
In American manufacturing, asbestos is no longer used in vinyl products today. However, other countries may not have asbestos regulations in place regarding its use in vinyl products, and there are no rules against bringing asbestos-containing vinyl products into the U.S.
Roofing and Siding Shingles
Several types of roofing and siding products used to be made with asbestos fibers. This was done in an effort to provide greater strength, durability, insulation, and fireproofing properties to buildings. However, since the early 1980s, the use of asbestos in roofing and siding materials has continued to decline.
Asbestos was historically used in the following types of roofing products:
- Asphalt roofing felt
- Asphalt roofing shingles
- Cement roofing shingles
- Roof underlayment
In addition, asbestos was also utilized in the following siding products:
- Wood shake vapor barriers
- Cement-asbestos board (Transite) siding
- “Slate” siding
If your home has asbestos siding and roofing, that does not automatically mean you and your family are in danger of asbestos exposure. If your roofing and siding are in good condition, it is best to leave it as-is. However, if your roofing or siding is damaged, it is in your best interest to have it professionally repaired. It may be possible to replace the damaged roofing or siding with new materials that do not contain asbestos. Just be sure to verify with your local building codes.
Textured Paint and Patching Compounds
Until the 1980s, it was common for asbestos to be used as an ingredient in different types of paints that are commonly used in homes. If your home was built in the 1970s or earlier, there may be asbestos present in the paint on your walls.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that if your home is in good condition, there is no reason for the asbestos in the paint to impact your health. If the paint is deteriorating, then it may be in your best interest to have a professional inspect it to see if repairs are needed.
If you have a wood-burning stove, the walls and floors around it may be covered with asbestos-containing materials, such as:
- Asbestos paper
- Cement sheet
- Asbestos tape
- Door gaskets
- Pads and trivets for cook-top surfaces
While asbestos is a fire-retardent material, it is still common for its quality to degrade over time. When this happens, the material can start to disintegrate, which can cause the toxic particles to become airborne in your home.
When asbestos particles are airborne, they have the potential to cause different types of cancers, such as mesothelioma. This is why it is important to address home repairs right away; particularly if you have an older home.
Pipelines that were laid between 1920 and 1980 are largely contaminated with asbestos as it was used to protect steel pipes from corrosion and natural elements. It was used within the piping where asbestos-containing materials lined the pipe walls as well as in pipe wrapping in an effort to insulate exposed pipes and implement fireproof characteristics.
However, when the Clean Air Act was enacted in 1965, the use of asbestos in new pipeline coatings began to disappear.
Cloths and Fibers
Since raw asbestos is fibrous in nature, it can be spun and woven to create cloths. Asbestos fibers are resilient against the following dangers:
- High temperatures
- Electrical fires
- Corrosive substances
Of course, asbestos cloths are not everlasting, they can still be sliced, cut, or torn.
Because of the fire-retardent properties of asbestos cloth, it was widely used in protective gear such as firefighter jackets and foundry worker aprons and mitts. In addition, it was weaved in combination with other types of fibers in order to increase the tensile strength of textile materials.
Vehicle Clutches and Brakes
There are still several types of vehicle brakes and clutches that contain asbestos and are still in use today. For this reason, professional vehicle technicians and mechanics who work on brakes and clutches are potentially exposed to asbestos dust.
It is possible for brake and clutch dust to become airborne when any of the following are removed from a vehicle:
- Brake disk
- Brake drum
- Clutch cover
If Asbestos Has Hurt You, We Want to Help
Sustaining harm, such as mesothelioma, as a result of asbestos exposure is unacceptable. No one should have to suffer from such a deadly form of cancer as a result of being near airborne asbestos particles.
If you suffer from mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, you may be owed compensation to help pay for the expenses associated with the condition as well as any pain and suffering you have experienced as a result. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our skilled team right away to learn more about the ways we can help.
Contact our experienced team here at Shrader & Associates L.L.P. to learn more about how we can help with your case. Give us a call at (713) 787-3733 or fill out the online contact form to get in touch with a skilled attorney today.