Because asbestos is non-flammable, non-flammable, and has a high melting point, it has become a popular choice for fire-resistant building materials and textiles. Therefore, asbestos has been found in fire protection, construction and household products.
Due to its chemical properties, asbestos can be used well as a refractory material. It is non-flammable and non-flammable, with a melting point of approximately 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit. Asbestos is composed of lightweight fibers that are stronger than cotton, rayon, or nylon. These fibers are also flexible enough to be woven with other fibers, sprayed with cement or mixed with other materials.
Asbestos is a cheap additive that is used to make a series of reasonably priced fire protection products, including building materials such as roof tiles, wall panels, concrete, insulation materials, and coatings. It is woven into textiles, made into fire-resistant fabrics and fabrics used by firefighters and industrial workers, and added to consumer products such as ironing board covers and electrical appliances.
Although American companies no longer use asbestos to make these materials, the United States only bans one type of asbestos fire-resistant products: sprayed asbestos fire-resistant products. In 1970, the Clean Air Act was passed and it was banned. Roofing and flooring materials imported from countries such as China and India may contain asbestos.
In addition to encountering asbestos products in burning buildings, firefighters also come into direct contact with asbestos through the clothes they wear and the equipment used to extinguish fires.
Therefore, firefighters are among the occupations with the highest risk of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
Asbestos was added to the following firefighting equipment:
Consumers and homeowners should know that asbestos is used in consumer products and home building materials to prevent fires.
Asbestos is also used in many different tools and machinery that operate at high temperatures in commercial or industrial environments.
Asbestos has been found in the following consumer products and construction materials:
Sprayed asbestos fireproof material was used in the construction of the World Trade Center in New York City. As a result, after the collapse of the twin towers on September 11, 2001, asbestos dust was released into the air.
According to a health study conducted by the World Trade Center Health Registry in 2016, more than 352 people developed asbestos lung after the collapse, another 444 people developed pulmonary fibrosis, and 16% were diagnosed with cancer. At least two people were exposed to the 9/11 dust and died of mesothelioma.
The asbestos content in fireproof products varies from product to product. For example, ceiling tiles contain an average of 10% asbestos, while insulating panels may contain up to 40% asbestos. Textiles developed for fire protection purposes can be made of up to 100% asbestos.
Due to the popularity of asbestos fire-resistant products, many different occupations are exposed to asbestos. Construction workers and firefighters are particularly vulnerable to high concentrations of asbestos. When buildings are renovated, demolished, or are affected by fire, products containing asbestos are easily damaged.
Spraying asbestos fireproof material is a particularly dangerous material. When first used, it was a damp foam-like material. When it dries, it becomes brittle. Fragile means that the material is easily broken. As the sprayed asbestos fire retardant material ages, it becomes more fragile, usually to the point where even the slightest interference can cause dangerous asbestos exposure. Brands of spraying asbestos fire-resistant materials include Monokote, Limpet, Cafco and Spraycraft.
Companies that manufacture asbestos fire-resistant products are responsible for the diseases caused by their products, because they know that asbestos can adversely affect health. Since the 1970s, US courts have required these companies to pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
The abatement of asbestos fire-resistant materials should always be carried out by licensed professionals. Many asbestos fireproof materials are recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as Class I, which is the most dangerous category of asbestos-containing products.
Examples of Class I asbestos materials include:
If you suspect that your house contains asbestos in the building materials, it is also important to hire a licensed professional. Removal of these materials may generate asbestos dust and cause unnecessary contact between family members.
If you find old consumer products that may contain asbestos, please call your local environmental quality department and ask about proper disposal methods in your area. Some landfills are equipped with asbestos waste collection equipment, and you need to follow proper bagging and disposal procedures. If the product is damaged, please hire a licensed professional to handle and dispose of it properly.
The use of asbestos in fire-resistant materials and products continued to increase until the early 1970s when several studies were published linking this mineral to lung cancer and mesothelioma. These studies prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to restrict the use of asbestos. Federal legislation also prohibits the production of sprayed asbestos fire-resistant materials.
Beginning in the 1950s, high-rise buildings began to use light-weight thermal insulation materials such as sprayed fireproof materials. These ultra-light asbestos materials are applied to steel structures and other core building structures to prevent them from bending during fire. The Chase Manhattan Bank in New York City was built in 1958 and was one of the first high-rise buildings to use sprayed asbestos fire-resistant materials. By 1970, about 40,000 tons of asbestos-containing insulating materials were used in high-rise buildings. Common manufacturers of asbestos fire sprays include WR Grace, Isolatek International, American Gypsum, JW Roberts Limited and US Mineral.
Henry Ward and Ludwig Hatschek are believed to be the first to mass-produce fire-resistant asbestos building materials. Ward was a construction contractor who manufactured fire-resistant paint and fire-resistant tar paper for roofs in the 1860s. In 1900, engineer Hatschek built the Hatschek machine, which was the first machine that could produce asbestos roof slabs inexpensively and efficiently.
In the 1500s and 1600s, scientists such as George Agricola, the father of modern mineralogy, were very interested in asbestos and extensively studied and wrote articles about this mineral. This scientific research eventually led inventors to use asbestos to create better new products. In the United States, Benjamin Franklin made one of these first inventions using the fire-resistant properties of asbestos. This is a fireproof wallet, now housed in the Natural History Museum in London.
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