Adhesives are used to help bond numerous types of materials. Beginning early in the 1900s, it was common for asbestos use in adhesives . Unfortunately, microscopic asbestos fibers are dangerous when inhaled into the lungs. By the 1980s, the dangers were so widely known that asbestos use was largely discontinued.
Asbestos Use in Adhesives
Adhesives are used in flooring, wallpaper, HVAC systems, and many other construction materials. Additionally, they were used to patch seal joints on boilers and pipes on United States Naval ships because, when these adhesives contained asbestos, they were capable of withstanding extreme heat and fire. Fortunately, asbestos-containing adhesives have low toxicity levels and are not friable. As a result of this, the only adhesives banned by the Environmental Protection Agency are sprayed-on asbestos adhesives that contain more than one percent asbestos and flooring felt adhesive.
The majority of liquid, non-roofing adhesives that contained asbestos were created through the use of bagged asbestos. The asbestos was placed into a fluffing machine in order to separate the fibers. Next, resins or solvents were added in a batch-mixing tank, along with pigments or fillers. Once complete, the material was packaged in metal pails, smaller containers, or tubes. By 1985, about 9.6 million gallons of asbestos non-roofing adhesives, sealants, and coatings were being produced. However, throughout the 1980s, the use of asbestos began to decline due to awareness of the danger, coupled with the filing of lawsuits, which increased insurance costs.
Danger of Exposure
Most adhesive materials with asbestos contained up to 25% asbestos. Fibers are released as adhesives break down over time. These fibers can also be released during renovation, demolition, or regulator construction if adhesives are damaged or disturbed. Additionally, seals may wear down and flake or peel away. Some of the occupations at risk of exposure to asbestos-containing adhesives included construction workers, HVAC workers, and Navy veterans.
While the use of asbestos in adhesives largely stopped in the 1980s, older homes or buildings may still contain asbestos-containing adhesives. Some of these adhesives can be abated without the help of a professional. However, black adhesive should always be tested for asbestos. If asbestos is detected, the material should be abated by a professional. It is important to never sand or grind adhesives, as this can release fibers into the air. While adhesives are not considered as dangerous as other asbestos-containing materials, it is still necessary to take precaution against exposure.
Microscopic asbestos fibers are dangerous when released into the air where they can be breathed into the lungs. Once in the lungs, these fibers may remain for many years before the development of serious diseases, like mesothelioma or other cancers, become apparent. Unfortunately, these diseases are often life-threatening and result in significant medical bills.
If you have been exposed to asbestos and believe that this may have led to the development of health issues, it is important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. It may be possible for you to recover needed damage awards from those responsible for your asbestos exposure. At the Throneberry Law Group, our attorneys will travel to you to provide the help you need.