Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral fiber that causes cancer, was once widely used in many home products. It was in paper used to insulate ductwork, in mastics used to attach asbestos-containing tiles to the floor, and in hair dryers. Virtually any space in a home could have asbestos-containing products in it.
Satterley & Kelley, PLLC represents victims of asbestos-related diseases. They worked directly with these products, were on job sites where asbestos was used, or could be family members of these workers who breathed in fibers from their work clothes. You may be entitled to compensation if you’re diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. Call us at 855-385-9532 to learn more.
Why Was Asbestos Used in Homes?
Asbestos has many qualities that make it a practical component in home products, whether a one-family Colonial in the country or an apartment building in a major city. These products were used from the Industrial Revolution through the 1980s, when health and safety regulations largely forced them off the market.
Some of the reasons asbestos was used include:
- Fire and Heat Resistance: Asbestos fibers are naturally heat-resistant, making them an ideal part of materials designed to withstand high temperatures and prevent the start or spread of fires. Asbestos was used for insulation, roofing, and fireproofing applications, reducing the risk of fire-related injuries and property damage
- Durability and Longevity: Asbestos fibers are very strong, durable, and long-lasting. When used in products like roofing tiles, siding, and cement, asbestos improved their strength and weather resistance, so homes could better withstand the elements. Since products lasted longer, they weren’t replaced as often, making them cheaper over time
- Versatility and Cost-Effectiveness: Asbestos could be mixed with other materials, such as cement, textiles, glues, and plastics. It was incorporated into paper, cardboard, and cloth. As a result, a wide range of asbestos-containing products became available, including floor tiles, wallboard, pipe insulation, and textured coatings. During its peak use, asbestos was also abundant and inexpensive
- Sound Absorption: Asbestos also had excellent sound-absorption properties, so it was used to reduce noise in homes, making them more comfortable. Asbestos-containing sound insulation was put on walls, ceilings, and floors in homes
For many years asbestos was considered a miracle material that improved the safety and longevity of homes. As time passed and the health risks of asbestos became better known, owning a house loaded with asbestos-containing products became a nightmare. Asbestos-containing products had to be removed or covered to prevent the release of fibers.
What Types of Asbestos-Containing Products Were Used in Homes?
Products had many purposes and could be found almost anywhere in a home. One of the most common asbestos uses was for insulation:
- Attics: Loose-fill or blown-in asbestos was used to insulate attics, offering heat and fire resistance
- Pipes: Asbestos-containing materials wrapped around heating pipes provided insulation and fire protection.
- Walls: Vermiculite, a mineral often contaminated with asbestos, was used in wall and attic insulation
Asbestos was incorporated into various roofing materials for its strength and heat resistance. They include:
- Roof Shingles: Used for their durability and fire-resistant properties, asbestos roof shingles were prevalent in homes built before the 1980s
- Roofing Felt: Asbestos was sometimes added to roofing felt, a material used under shingles or tiles
Due to its durability, asbestos was used in floor tiles and other flooring materials. They include:
- Vinyl Floor Tiles: These tiles, often found in kitchens, bathrooms, and basements, contained asbestos fibers to enhance their strength
- Mastics: These adhesives attached tiles to floors
- Carpet Backing: Some older carpets had an asbestos backing, providing insulation and fire resistance
Asbestos cement was used extensively in construction because it was heat and weather-resistant. Asbestos cement products found in homes include:
- Pipes: Used for water and sewage systems, these pipes were strong and long-lasting
- Siding: This exterior siding material was known for its durability and fire resistance
Textured coatings, or “popcorn” ceilings, were once popular for their decorative appearance, ability to quiet homes, and fire resistance. Some of these coatings contained asbestos for added strength and texture.
Why are Asbestos-Containing Products in Homes Hazardous?
In the 1960s and 1970s, an alarming truth emerged – the seemingly benign asbestos products in homes posed a significant health hazard. Problems occurred when products:
- Were first applied or installed
- Were repaired or replaced
- Deteriorated and started falling apart
When these events happened, asbestos fibers in these products were released into the air, where those nearby inhaled or ingested them. Over the years and decades, fibers could cause several chronic and fatal conditions.
Asbestos fibers are extremely lightweight and can remain suspended in the air for extended periods. Fibers can lodge deep within the lungs when inhaled, causing irreparable damage over time.
Asbestosis, a chronic lung disease, occurs when asbestos fibers scar lung tissues, impairing their ability to function. The time from asbestos exposure to the onset of asbestosis can be decades, making it challenging to detect until symptoms become severe.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and its link to lung cancer is well-established. Individuals exposed to asbestos, especially those who smoke, face a better chance of developing lung cancer than the general population.
The most devastating asbestos-related disease is mesothelioma, an aggressive and rare cancer impacting the lining of the lungs, chest cavity, abdominal organs, and abdominal cavity. Exclusively caused by asbestos exposure, mesothelioma’s prognosis is generally poor.
Call Us Today For A Free Initial Consultation
If you or a family member are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you may be entitled to compensation for your lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Call our office in Louisville at 855-385-9532 or fill out our contact form for a free initial consultation regarding your asbestos exposure case.