Asbestos-containing pipe insulation had a dual life. It helped industrial facilities, power plants, refineries, and ships function and protected workers from high heat. But the asbestos fibers in it often caused severe, chronic, and often deadly diseases to those installing or removing the insulation.
Satterley & Kelley, PLLC, represents victims of asbestos-related disease in their quest for compensation for what they’ve endured. Whether you’ve been sickened by pipe insulation or another asbestos product, we can help. Call us at 855-835-9532 today.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber once used extensively in many industries due to its heat, fire, and chemical-resistant properties. It’s durable, an excellent insulator, and inexpensive at the time of its peak use (the Industrial Revolution through the late 1970s).
Why is Asbestos Dangerous?
Asbestos is hazardous due to the health damage it inflicts when its microscopic fibers are released into the air and inhaled or ingested. Fibers are highly durable and light, so they can remain in the air for a long time. After they end up in the body, their strength and toughness can make it virtually impossible for the body to remove them.
This decades-long exposure can result in inflammation, scar tissue, and cancer, impacting many organs and parts of the body. Asbestos-related cancers include lung cancer and mesotheliomas that affect the linings of the lungs, heart, abdominal organs, chest, and abdominal cavities. Mesotheliomas are aggressive and almost always fatal. Other cancers include those of the larynx and ovaries.
What is Asbestos-Containing Pipe Insulation?
These insulation materials cover pipes in various industrial, commercial, and maritime settings. They typically consisted of a combination of asbestos fibers mixed with binders and sometimes other reinforcing materials such as paper or cardboard. They came as blocks, blankets, and sheets. Asbestos-containing pipe insulation was used to prevent heat loss, protect against temperature fluctuations, and improve energy efficiency.
The insulation could be cut and shaped to fit a particular installation. The insulation could be torn or cut off as needed. Both application and removal would release asbestos fibers into the air, where those in the area would inhale or ingest them.
Why Was Asbestos Part of Pipe Insulation?
Asbestos was used for many reasons:
- Heat Resistance: Asbestos fibers are naturally resistant to high temperatures and can withstand heat without degrading
- Insulating Properties: Asbestos fibers have excellent insulating qualities, which means they can help keep the heat from escaping the pipes, reducing energy costs and improving energy efficiency
- Durability: Asbestos is durable and doesn’t deteriorate quickly, even under harsh conditions. Asbestos-containing pipe insulation was used for years without needing to be replaced
- Fire Resistance: Asbestos is highly fire-resistant and doesn’t burn easily
- Chemical Resistance: Asbestos fibers are resistant to many chemicals and corrosion, making them suitable for use in industrial environments where pipes might come into contact with caustic substances
- Cost-Effectiveness: For decades, asbestos was readily available and relatively inexpensive
Another key reason for asbestos’ popularity was that the companies mining, refining, selling, and using asbestos actively hid research showing asbestos was toxic, causing severe chronic and fatal diseases.
Over time their efforts failed, this information was more widely known, governments tightly limited or banned asbestos use, and customers no longer wanted asbestos in the products they bought.
Where Was Asbestos-Containing Pipe Insulation Used?
Asbestos-containing pipe insulation was used on pipes in various industries and settings. Its heat-resistant and insulating properties made it a popular choice for maintaining temperature control and heat loss prevention. Some typical applications included:
- Industrial Facilities: It was used in industrial plants, factories, and refineries to insulate pipes carrying hot fluids, steam, or gasses. This helped prevent heat loss and maintain optimal operating temperatures
- Commercial Buildings: Asbestos-containing pipe insulation was used in commercial buildings like offices, schools, hospitals, and shopping centers to insulate pipes for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
- Power Plants: Asbestos insulation was used extensively to insulate steam pipes, boilers, and other equipment. The heat resistance of asbestos helped improve energy production efficiency
- Ships and Marine Applications: Asbestos-containing insulation was used in shipbuilding for insulating pipes, boilers, and engines. Fire resistance was particularly valued onboard ships
- Chemical Plants: Asbestos-containing insulation was used in chemical plants to insulate pipes carrying corrosive substances or high-temperature materials
- Oil and Gas Industry: Asbestos insulation was used to insulate pipes and equipment in the oil and gas industry, especially in areas where heat resistance and fire safety were critical
- Steam Distribution Systems: Asbestos-containing insulation was often applied to pipes in steam distribution systems to prevent heat loss as steam was transported to various buildings
Those selling asbestos-containing pipe insulation always looked for new markets and uses for their products. Those exposed to asbestos and sickened paid the price for their success.
Call Us Today For A Free Mesothelioma Law Consultation
We are here for you if you or someone you love suffers from mesothelioma or an asbestos-related illness due to exposure to pipe insulation. To reach our Louisville office, call us at 855-385-9532. You may also complete our contact form for a free initial consultation.