The use of asbestos sheets for various construction projects began in 1907. These sheets were made from asbestos cement and were used in residential, commercial, and industrial applications. Asbestos sheets are considered to be of medium toxicity, but they are generally not friable and not banned from use.
Types of Sheets
Before asbestos sheets were used, fires were able to spread very quickly, which often resulted in the complete loss of buildings. The various types of asbestos sheets include:
- Corrugated sheets: primarily used in roofs and as siding for walls to provide structural support and protection in the event of fire;
- Sheathing (also called corrugated asbestos-cement sheathing or asbestos building lumber): used in roofing and siding, frequently in renovation projects or additions because it was easy and inexpensive to install; and
- Flatsheet: used in interior walls and ceilings.
Asbestos sheets are made by mixing cement, water, and asbestos together. Once mixed, the material is layered and pressed between metallic plates in order to remove excess water and to create a corrugated pattern. This pattern appears as a series of parallel ridges that add strength to the sheet. Some of the manufacturers of asbestos sheet included Keasby & Mattison, Johns Manville, Philip Carey Manufacturing Corporation, and National Gypsum Company.
Asbestos sheets contain between 20-45%asbestos. They can become dangerous when they are damaged. This can occur as a result of power washing, sanding, sawing, drilling, or removing sheets. Any of those activities can lead to microscopic asbestos fibers being released into the air. Additionally, heat, water, weathering, and aging can also weaken sheets, making them more susceptible to being damaged. Construction workers are at the most risk as a result of projects involving installing, removing, renovating, or demolishing asbestos sheets.
Though not friable, asbestos sheets can become friable if they are damaged. A product is friable if it is brittle and can be broken apart with very little force. Prior to any demolition or renovation project, asbestos sheets should be abated and, if possible, they should be removed whole. If asbestos sheets become broken and friable, only a licensed and registered asbestos contractor should handle the abatement process. During the removal, all sheets should be wet in order to help minimize the risk of fibers being released.
When asbestos fibers are breathed into the lungs, they may remain for many years before health complications such as mesothelioma or asbestosis develop. The use of asbestos was widespread for much of the twentieth century. While the use largely ended in the 1980s, older homes or buildings may still contain products that contain asbestos. As a result, care should be taken when renovating these types of structures.
If you have been diagnosed with a health condition related to exposure to asbestos, it may be possible for you to hold those responsible for your exposure accountable. For more information, contact an experienced attorney today. At the Throneberry Law Group, we understand the difficulty of dealing with asbestos-related diseases and look forward to discussing how we can help.