Hazardous Products Containing Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that has been used in more than 3,000 different products. Its use continued long after the industry became aware of its dangers.

Asbestos is particularly insidious because it can be present without the knowledge of those exposed. The fibers are microscopic, and there are no known warning signs that point to potential exposure. Instead, the fibers quietly lodge themselves deeply into body tissues, where they cause damage for decades until the victim becomes irreversibly and fatally ill.

The Miracle Mineral

Asbestos has been used throughout human history. Ancient Greeks and Romans used it in clothing, linens and building materials. Its fireproof properties were so notable that soiled towels would be thrown into fires, from which they emerged clean and unharmed.

Asbestos was once nicknamed the “miracle mineral” because of its amazing properties:

  • Fireproof
  • Heatproof
  • Soundproof
  • Waterproof
  • Non-conductive
  • Resistant to chemicals
  • Remarkable tensile strength
  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • Abundant
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    Asbestos Products at The Lanier Law Firm

    The Lanier Law Firm is home to one of the world’s largest collections of asbestos products. We’ve cataloged some in the gallery below, including not only products containing asbestos but also asbestos dust and raw mined asbestos. Our collection contains industrial products ranging from brake pads to adhesives, as well as consumer products such as toasters, hair dryers, and children’s toys. Most shockingly, we also have products intended to protect individuals from other hazards, including face masks which may protect from one hazard but directly expose users to the harmful asbestos dust.

    Industrial Asbestos Products

    Production of asbestos-containing products in the United States reached its peak between the 1930s and the late 1970s until the industry became heavily regulated due to increasing public awareness of the health risks associated with asbestos exposure. Production of asbestos-containing products has since declined significantly.

    Spray Coatings

    Spray coatings were formulations containing loose asbestos fibers that were widely used in the building industry. These products added fire protection, insulation and soundproofing qualities.

    Papers and Felts

    Papers and felts were used as linings in flooring and roofing products. They were also wrapped around pipes and electrical insulation.

    Textiles

    Asbestos has played a significant role in the textile industry and was widely used in the following:

    • Yarn
    • Thread
    • Cloth
    • Tape
    • Rope

    Insulation

    Asbestos was a popular type of insulation in multiple building applications. Insulation applications include the following:

    • Thermal insulation
    • Electrical insulation
    • Pipe insulation
    • Soundproofing
    • Fireproofing

    Automotive Friction Products

    Asbestos has been a popular product in automotive and aircraft friction products including brake linings, brake pads and clutches.

    Cement

    The reinforcing qualities of asbestos have made it ideal for reinforcing cement. Cement boards, products and sheets comprise the largest share of worldwide industrial use of asbestos.

    Plastic Products

    Asbestos fibers reinforced plastic products made from PVC, nylon, resins and other synthetic materials.

    Gaskets

    Combining asbestos fibers with resins has paved the way for manufacturing gaskets and other rubber-based products.

    Coatings, Sealants and Adhesives

    Asbestos has enjoyed a wide variety of uses in such products as caulking, roofing compounds and industrial glues.

    Vinyl Tiles and Asphalt Shingles

    The reinforcing and absorbing qualities of asbestos make it an ideal material for vinyl floor tiles and asphalt shingles.

    Asbestos in Building Construction

    Despite many uses of asbestos being discontinued, its previous widespread use means millions of Americans continue to experience asbestos exposure while occupying and working in buildings constructed during this period. This is known as legacy asbestos.

    Schools

    Asbestos is a serious threat in the nation’s public school buildings, the majority of which are known to be harboring asbestos in the following applications:

    • Insulation
    • Building materials
    • Floor tile
    • Ceiling tiles
    • Cement asbestos pipe
    • Corrugated paper pipe wrap
    • Sound insulation
    • Pipe insulation
    • Boiler insulation
    • Spray-on fireproofing materials

    This is an area of significant concern because many schools are experiencing a gradual deterioration of asbestos-containing floor tiles, cement pipes and other materials. As these products wear down, the asbestos is disturbed, releasing it into the air where students, teachers and other personnel can inhale the fibers.

    Commercial Buildings

    Commercial buildings constructed prior to 1980 are certain to contain multiple asbestos-containing products, including but not limited to the following:

    • Pipe insulation
    • Boiler insulation
    • Gaskets
    • Spray-on fireproofing
    • Vinyl floor tile
    • Linoleum
    • Grout
    • Ceiling tiles
    • Popcorn ceilings
    • Drywall tape
    • Joint compound
    • Plaster
    • Wall tile adhesive
    • Fire doors
    • Adhesives
    • Sealants
    • Roofing products
    • Cement products
    • Vinyl-asbestos floor tile

    Asbestos in the Home

    Homes built before 1990 are at risk of containing asbestos. It is important to remember that undisturbed asbestos is not associated with any known health hazards. In addition to the building itself, you may also have consumer products in your home that contain asbestos.

    Asbestos Building Materials

    Asbestos-containing materials in residential construction include the following:

    • Roof shingles
    • Roofing felt
    • Corrugated roofing
    • Gutter and spout joints
    • Building eaves
    • Siding
    • Vermiculite insulation
      • Most of the nation’s vermiculite up until 1990 came from the vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana, which was contaminated with asbestos.
      • If you have vermiculite insulation, you should assume it is from Libby.
      • Libby vermiculite was often sold under the brand name Zonolite.
    • HVAC units and ductwork
    • Recessed lighting fixtures
    • Texturized paint
    • Popcorn ceilings
    • Paneling
    • Vinyl-asbestos tiles
    • Batt insulation
    • Electrical panels
    • Wire insulation

    Large Appliances

    • Woodburning stove accessories and hearth bases
    • Refrigerators
    • Dishwashers
    • Oven exhaust hoods
    • Washers and dryers
    • Water heaters
    • Boilers

    Small Appliances

    Older appliances prior to 1980 may contain asbestos. In most cases, the asbestos was enclosed within the appliance, so exposure risk was low unless the appliance was taken apart.

    • Coffee makers
    • Slow cookers
    • Toasters
    • Popcorn poppers
    • Irons
    • Portable heaters
    • Hair dryers

    Gardening Products

    • Fertilizers
    • Soil conditioners
    • Libby vermiculite
    • Potting soil

    Talc-Based Cosmetics

    Talc is a mineral that is often contaminated with asbestos. Despite numerous talc-based products testing positive for asbestos, the FDA does not require the cosmetics industry to test for asbestos prior to marketing these products.

    Asbestos contamination in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower feminine powder have been implicated in thousands of cases of ovarian cancer, resulting in billions of dollars in settlements and verdicts against Johnson & Johnson. The company has since discontinued talc-based powder products in the United States and Canada.

    Other talc-based products that have tested positive for asbestos include the following:

    • Cosmetics
      • Eyeshadow from Claire’s
      • Compact from Claire’s
      • Contour powder from Claire’s
      • Shimmer powder from Justice
    • Talcum powder

    Toys

    Asbestos has been found in the following types of toys, all of which were manufactured in China:

    • Four different brands of crayons
      • Amscan Crayons
      • Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
      • Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
      • Crayons
      • Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce
    • Older car racing sets
    • Two crime detective kits
      • EduScience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit – black
      • fingerprint powder
      • Inside Intelligence Secret Spy Kit – white
      • fingerprint powder
    • Children’s

    General Household Goods

    Asbestos can be found in textiles, cosmetics, adhesives, fireproof products, insulating products and more. Examples of general household products that could contain asbestos include but are not limited to the following:

    • Duct tape
    • Chalkboards
    • Vintage fake snow on Christmas trees
    • Stovetop pads
    • Yarn
    • Millboard
    • Older ironing board covers
    • Electric blankets
    • Fireproof gloves
    • Asbestos curtains
    • Wallpaper

    Asbestos in Drinking Water

    Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that comes from the ground, which leads to its occurrence in drinking water. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires municipalities to test for asbestos in the water supply and ensure it remains below specified levels. These regulations do not include private water sources, such as wells.

    Asbestos can also enter drinking water in individual buildings and residences through cement pipes. Asbestos was a common component of cement pipes, and as these decay over time, the asbestos is released into the drinking water.

    Asbestos in the Workplace

    The workplace has historically been the most prevalent asbestos exposure source. Workers can be exposed through the following sources:

    • Debris from building destruction or renovation
    • Fireproof personal protective clothing and equipment
    • Automotive friction parts
      • Brake linings
      • Brake pads
      • Clutch parts
    • Old pipes, especially cement water pipes when cut for repair
    • Electrical components insulated with asbestos
    • Older ships, especially naval vessels
    • Boiler rooms
    • Old chimneys and chimney liners
    • Asbestos diaphragms used in the production of chlorine

    Is asbestos banned?

    Surprisingly, asbestos is not banned in the United States. It can still be used in many materials without warnings to the public as long as the asbestos accounts for less than one percent of the product’s composition.

    The EPA banned most uses of asbestos in 1989, but intense lobbying efforts by the asbestos industry resulted in this being overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1991. Although asbestos products have not been mined in the United States since 2002, it is still imported.

    How Asbestos is Still Used Today

    Earlier this year, the EPA proposed a new ban on all chrysotile asbestos imports, which is the primary form of asbestos being used today.

    Asbestos Diaphragms

    During the production of chlorine gas, the chlor-alkali industry uses asbestos diaphragms as a barrier to keep chlorine separate from sodium hydroxide. Through a process of electrolysis, chlorine is generated near the anode of the cell, while sodium hydroxide is generated near the cathode. If allowed to mix, a chemical reaction occurs, resulting in a single product, sodium hypochlorite.

    The EPA has found that this process poses an unreasonable risk of asbestos exposure to workers. Only one-third of the industry in the United States uses asbestos diaphragms, while the remaining two-thirds have adopted alternative processes.

    Automotive Parts

    The combination of heat resistance and insulation properties makes asbestos an ideal product for automotive parts. Asbestos was mostly used in older cars, but automobile mechanics risk exposure when these parts wear out and the asbestos becomes airborne.

    Although asbestos is not typically used in newer vehicle components, classic car hobbyists often expect original components to be used in repairs, increasing the risks.

    The following older car parts could still contain asbestos:

    • Hood liners
    • Clutch assembly
    • Brake pads
    • Gaskets
    • Valve rings
    • Valve stem packing

    Gaskets

    Gaskets are used in industrial equipment to prevent moisture penetration between hard surfaces. As these gaskets wear down, asbestos can be released into the air. Products that use gaskets include the following:

    • Pipes
    • Valves
    • Pumps
    • Machines

    What should I do if I suspect asbestos in my home or workplace?

    If you suspect you have asbestos in your home, workplace or in a product, it is important that you leave it undisturbed. It is impossible to determine whether a product is contaminated with asbestos without having it tested. Your local health department can provide you with companies in your area that test and abate asbestos.

    Removal of asbestos requires the use of a professional abatement company. Special procedures are required to prevent fibers from becoming airborne during removal, and asbestos must be disposed of properly. Never attempt to remove asbestos on your own. Improper removal of asbestos is more dangerous than leaving it in place.

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