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Air Indoor Resources - Asbestos

Uses of Asbestos

Historical use of asbestos dates back to 4000 BC when it was used as wicks in lamps and candles, due to this use the Greek word for asbestos means inextinguishable or unquenchable. Industrial asbestos-based products in the Untied States became more common after the discovery of Chrysolite type asbestos, in the Thedford Mines in Quebec, Canada in 1850. However, it was not until 1879 did the Thedford mines open for commercial mining of asbestos. A very interesting chronology of asbestos innovations and uses.(PDF)

The last domestic asbestos mine in the United States closed in 2002, although over 6,000 metric tons of asbestos was imported from Canada in 2003. Even today, asbestos-containing material can still be found at local building supply stores, in particular, since the recent bout of hurricanes has increased the need for building materials. The White Asbestos called Chrysotile mined in Canada accounts for 95% of the asbestos found in building material in the United States.

Commercial products containing asbestos were commonly used in the construction industry from 1945 to circa 1980. The four main categories of uses were: sprayed on fireproofing material; sprayed or trowel-applied insulation to inhibit heat transfer and condensation; sprayed or applied acoustical material for decoration and; miscellaneous material containing asbestos such as asphalt, vinyl, and cement products.

Asbestos-Containing Building Material (ACBM) is identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) into three categories:

Surfacing Materials used in interior construction that are sprayed or towel-applied onto structural surfaces such as walls and ceilings for fireproofing, acoustical damping, decorative purposes and other uses to include patching compounds, textile paints, and plaster.

Thermal System Insulation used in controlling heat transfer or prevention of condensation from piping, boilers, ducts and tanks, and other parts of heating and cooling systems.

Miscellaneous Materials are usually nonfriable products, such as floor tile, ceiling tile, fire doors, theater curtains, and vibration damping cloth.

Over 36,000 inexpensive products have been made from asbestos due to its durability, as well as heat and chemical resistance:

  • Adhesives/Mastics/ Caulk
  • Air Conditioning Equipment
  • Aprons/Fabrics
  • Brake Shoes
  • Car Hood Liners
  • Cement
  • Ceiling Tile
  • Corrugated Carpet
  • Duct Insulation
  • Ductwork Flexible Fabric
  • Electrical Cloth
  • Electrical Ducts
  • Fake Snow
  • Felt
  • Fire Blankets
  • Fire Curtains
  • Fireproofing Materials
  • Floor Tile (9’x9’)
  • Gaskets
  • Generators
  • Rods
  • Hair Dryers
  • Heat Shields
  • Heating Ducts
  • Insulation
  • Ironing Board Covers
  • Laboratory Gloves
  • Paint
  • Paper
  • Pipe Covering
  • Plaster
  • Putty
  • Roofing Shingles
  • Rope
  • Spackling Compounds
  • Tape
  • Thermal Paper
  • Vibration Damping Cloth
  • Wallboard
  • Wall Coverings
  • Waterproofing
  • Welding Materials

Amosite or the “Brown Asbestos” is used mainly in insulation and Crocidolite or “Blue Asbestos” chiefly mined in South Africa or Australia is used in high temperature insulation as a product for chemical resistant surfaces such as chemical and biological laboratory tables, or as an additive for strength in cement products. Due to Crocodilite’s straight needle-like fibers they are considered the most dangerous to human health.

Contact Information

Wendy Murphy
325 West Gaines Street
Suite, 1054
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Phone: (850) 245-9295