Asbestos still Imported, Used in the U.S.; Product Labeling not Required

April 13, 2012 12:29 PM | Cheryl Stewart (Administrator)

Asbestos is the general term given to six natural, fibrous, silicate minerals. It is derived from a Greek word that means “inextinguishable.” For commercial use, the minerals are milled and separated into very thin fibers used in a wide variety of products. It may be surprising to know that asbestos is still being imported and used in manufacturing in the United States.

 

Although asbestos was banned in certain products and applications by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the mid 1970s and early 1990s, and is no longer mined in the U.S., there are still numerous products containing asbestos. In addition, many products containing asbestos may not be labeled as such. Building materials containing asbestos could exist in your homeundefinedeven if built after the 1970s

.

Roof repair, room expansions, flooring and ceiling updates are just a few of the repairs or renovations that could result in exposure to asbestos. Once airborne, microscopic asbestos fibers can remain in the air for a long time. The result is the possibility of inhaling these fine particles, potentially causing serious illness such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and/or lung cancer. There is no known safe level of asbestos exposure.

 

If any type of repair, renovation, remodel or demolition is planned for your workplace or home, it is the law in most situations to have a survey conducted to check for suspected asbestos-containing materials. If the survey reveals asbestos, the asbestos-containing materials that will be disturbed during the renovation or demolition must be properly abated. Failure to survey and abate could result in a fine and potentially slow down the project, and more importantly create a health hazard.

 

During routine inspections, asbestos compliance issues have been observed during carpet replacement, wall removal, relocation of exhaust stacks, disposal of a boiler, dismantling of an oven, disposal of fallen cement asbestos board siding, and repair of a roof.

 

Asbestos fact sheets and a list of businesses that provide asbestos survey, testing and removal services are available at Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency’s website, www.spokanecleanair.org.

 

In terms of products, the primary products banned by the EPA were spray-on materials that contained asbestos, such as fireproofing, pre-molded insulation, and popcorn/decorative ceilings and use in commercial buildings. Many of us are probably familiar with the term “popcorn ceiling.” It is the most recognized form of asbestos-containing materials, but what we may not know are all the other products that may contain asbestos.

 

The list below includes some of the products that may contain asbestos. Some may contain 90% or more asbestos. It’s important to be aware of what to look for before making product purchases. When reviewing the product contents, you probably won’t see the term “asbestos” listed, instead you may see the asbestos minerals by name: actinolite, amosite, anthophylite, chrysotile, crocidolite, and/or tremolite.

 

The most common are amosite and chrysotile. Unfortunately, in some cases there may be no mention of "asbestos" or any of the asbestos minerals by name. If you don’t want to use products containing asbestos, look for products labeled “asbestos free” or check the ingredients for the asbestos minerals listed previously. In addition, notify your local hardware stores that you want product choices that do not contain any asbestos.

 

If you have questions about asbestos, please check Spokane Clean Air’s website or call us, 477-4727.

 

Here are some of the products not banned that may contain asbestos. Some may contain 90% or more asbestos.

  • Asbestos-cement corrugated sheet
  • Asbestos-cement flat sheet
  • Asbestos clothing
  • Pipeline wrap
  • Roofing felt
  • Vinyl-asbestos floor tile
  • Auto transmission components
  • Asbestos-cement shingle
  • Millboard
  • Asbestos-cement pipe
  • Clutch facings
  • Friction materials
  • Disc brake pads
  • Drum brake linings
  • Brake blocks
  • Gaskets
  • Non-roofing and roof coatings

 

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