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Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACMs) and Products

Thousands of products are manufactured with asbestos, exposing countless people to the dangers of mesothelioma.

Of the many materials that contain asbestos, roofing products, chemical-based items and construction materials are the worst offenders. Asbestos is used in these items because they need to be chemical, heat and fire resistant. Asbestos is the only known natural and cheap substance that can protect against those things.

In nature, asbestos looks like any other rock. But when it’s broken apart, the rock disintegrates into fluffy strands of fiber that can easily be woven into fabrics or mixed into other materials. For centuries, it’s been used in various applications. In more modern times, it was widely used in the military, construction work and chemical plants.

Why is Asbestos Used?

Long before modern man had the capabilities to invent and create new technology that could resist the extremes of temperature and caustic chemicals, there was asbestos. In ancient Rome, workers wove asbestos into blankets and clothing that were used to resist fire. In more contemporary times and even with advances in technology, asbestos was still used because it’s cheap, abundant and easily accessible.

Exposed to Asbestos?

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What are the Limits on Asbestos Use?

As early as the 1930s, researchers knew about the dangers of asbestos but workers were not protected. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the United States Consumer Protection Safety Council banned asbestos in wallboard patching compounds and gas fireplaces. It took another 20 years before the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection furthered the ban, extending it to all new asbestos applications. Today, established uses prior to 1989 are allowed. In fact, there is no nationwide ban on asbestos.

The only requirement is that all products that contain asbestos must be labeled as an Asbestos-Containing Material (ACM). No new products are allowed to contain more than one percent asbestos. All ACMs must be classified in one of three ways:

  • Sprayed or troweled-on material -- This includes ceiling or wall decorations and acoustical or fireproofing materials for schools, homes and other buildings.
  • Thermal System Insulation (TSI) -- This type of asbestos-containing product is found in insulation on water and steam pipes and boilers.
  • Miscellaneous -- This includes floor tiles, roofing materials, siding, gaskets and automotive products.

While the last of the U.S. asbestos mines closed several years ago, the federal government does not ban asbestos imports. Last year, nearly 1,100 tons of asbestos was imported from Brazil. Much of that went to chemical plants that make materials for many products on the market today.

What Kind of Materials and Products Contain Asbestos?

There is a long list of everyday products and materials that contain asbestos. The following is not a complete list:

  • Protective clothing and textiles
  • Roofing materials including shingles, tiles and cements
  • Fireproofing materials
  • Insulation and pipe covering
  • Gaskets
  • Packing materials
  • Cigarette filters
  • Paints and joint compounds

Who Can Develop Mesothelioma?

Anyone who works in close contact with ACMs or products is susceptible to developing mesothelioma. If you suspect you have been exposed to asbestos, contact a skilled mesothelioma specialist today.

Sources

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Asbestos. Retrieved from http://www.in.gov/idem/files/factsheet_asbestos.pdf

United States Environmental Protection Agency. Asbestos Containing Materials. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/region6/6pd/asbestos