Asbestos is used in more than 3,000 products available on the market today – but what are the most common applications?
Asbestos is harmful to humans. Basic scientific research over the past century has uncovered the fact that asbestos is a highly toxic, naturally occurring substance that should be avoided – or mitigated, at all costs. It has been linked to thousands of deaths, many of them due to mesothelioma, pulmonary fibrosis, or other respiratory concerns. Asbestos has been used for thousands of years to reinforce, strengthen, and improve a variety of tools and implements and has literally been poisoning human-kind for generations. It is important to recognize the most common historical applications for asbestos and to clarify where asbestos can be found – all to help minimize the risks to the general public.
While asbestos is a substance that is found in abundance throughout the world, it is incredibly dangerous. Most asbestos mines around the world have been shuttered due to contemporary evidence that points to asbestos as a leading cause of mesothelioma and other health concerns. While China, Russia, and Brazil still mine asbestos with abandon, the majority of nations have passed legislation and building codes that prohibit any unregulated interaction with asbestos. Simply put, asbestos is still prevalent in many structures across the US (and the rest of the world), and the removal of it requires specialized training and a cautious approach to this deadly substance.
Asbestos is found in a variety of places today – but the top ten most common applications for asbestos are listed below:
1. Pipe insulation
2. Wall insulation
3. Wall or ceiling panels
4. Roofing materials
5. Spackling or joint compound materials
6. Brake pads
8. Floor tiles
9. Household items that required heat-resistance
10. Fire doors or furnaces
Asbestos, in a variety of forms, has been used in both civilian and military applications over the years as an insulator, a strengthening material, and as sound deadening. More mundane applications have been in automotive parts – like brake pads (ever heard of Raybestos?), brake shoes, and filters. Today, asbestos may be found in older buildings, where it was likely used in a variety of applications from floor to ceiling. Asbestos was used in the manufacture of vinyl floor tiles, vinyl sheeting, and related adhesives, and as an insulator for under floor pipes and ductwork. Moving higher up the building, asbestos is commonly found in old drywall and joint compound, where it added significant strength and the ideal combination of flexibility and rigidity to withstand shifting foundations. Old residential buildings or commercial locations may contain asbestos-laden countertops or room siding, as the additive dramatically increased heat tolerance in these areas. Looking up to the roof, asbestos was often integrated into roofing shingles, roof felt, sealing tar, and home or building siding. Many electrical wires and hard metal pipes were wrapped or sprayed with asbestos-based insulation, meaning that it is nearly impossible to avoid asbestos in older buildings.