Asbestos in Tank Jackets and Other Plumbing Materials
The term "tank jacket" refers to a form of insulation placed around water heater tanks. It is essentially a large blanket that is wrapped around water heater tanks and fastened in place with straps in order to make them more energy efficient.
Prior to the 1980s, these tank jackets were usually lined with chrysotile asbestos. Also called "white" asbestos, this form of the mineral accounted for 97-98% of all commercial asbestos mined and processed in the United States. Most of it came from the W.R. Grace mines in Libby, Montana; another source was the northern Appalachians of Vermont. This ancient mountain chain is still mined for chrysotile where it extends into Quebec; Canada is one of the last countries on earth that continues to mine asbestos for commercial purposes (the other two are China and Russia).
Modern day domestically-produced tank jackets are made with substitute insulation material and should not contain asbestos. However, tank jackets imported from overseas should be examined carefully to ensure that they do not contain asbestos.
Tank Jackets Containing Asbestos
The following partial list of tank jackets were known to contain asbestos:
|Product Name||Start Year||End Year|
|Celotex Carey Asbestos Tank Jacket|
|National Gypsum Asbestos Jackets for Pipecovering|
|Nicolet Asbestos Tank Jackets||1939||1963|
|United States Gypsum Range Boiler Jackets Pipe Covering||1936||1939|
Hazards Associated with Tank Jacket Products
An asbestos-lined tank jacket is likely to pose little health hazard provided it is intact and in good condition. Like many products, however, tank jacket products may be subject to wear and tear over time, and if they begin to deteriorate or become torn, asbestos fibers may escape into the environment where they can be inhaled by those in the vicinity.
Asbestos exposure is responsible for a chronic respiratory disease known as asbestosis. Other diseases that can result from long-term chrysotile exposure include pleural thickening and mesothelioma cancer.
Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception: The Untold Story of Asbestos (New York: Touchstone, 2003)