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Asbestos Board

Asbestos in Asbestos Board and Other Types of Building Materials

Asbestos board is a type of building siding that is made from a mixture of asbestos fiber and portland cement. While sometimes used for walls in commercial and residential construction, it was more frequently employed to insulate and protect steam pipes, electrical conduits and other areas in which excessive heat posed a fire danger.

Asbestos board is one of the oldest fire-resistant building materials, dating back to the early 20th century. In the United States, asbestos board was produced by W.R. Grace, Johns-Manville and many other manufacturers of building materials. Although domestic production has been phased out, asbestos board is still manufactured and marketed overseas; one of the largest factories still engaged in the manufacture of asbestos board is the Beloyarskii Asbestos Board Factory Joint-Stock Company, located near the city of Ekaterinburg in central Russia. This factory has operated continuously since 1914, making it one of the oldest such facilities in existence.

Asbestos board has several advantages over other forms of asbestos-based insulation, primarily low cost and ease of installation: placing asbestos board requires no specialized skills or tools. When used to insulate pipe or other rounded surfaces, asbestos board can be soaked in water and molded around the curved surface. As it dries, it literally shrinks to fit, forming a secure bond.

As asbestos board ages, however, it can begin to deteriorate. Asbestos fibers start to become loose and they are released into the air, where they can be inhaled by those in the vicinity. Unfortunately, there may be hundreds of thousands of homes and buildings across the U.S. built prior to 1980 that contain asbestos board. If asbestos board is still present in the home, a qualified asbestos abatement service should be contacted for removal.

Asbestos Board Products Containing Asbestos

The following partial list of asbestos board products were known to contain asbestos:

Product Name Start Year End Year
Flintkote Asbestos Cement Board
Flintkote Cement Board
National Gypsum Gold Bond Asbestos Cement Board
National Gypsum Thermotec 1960 1981

Hazards Associated with Asbestos Board Products

Doctors have discovered a convincing association between breathing asbestos fibers and the development of malignant mesothelioma. In the case of asbestos board, those most at risk of exposure include construction workers, builders, framers, and general laborers. Cutting or shaping asbestos board would have created more airborne fibers than simply nailing the asbestos board up. The ease of use of asbestos board products meant that even unskilled workers could generally install the material, so nearly anyone working on a construction site that deployed asbestos board could have worked with it. Those who worked in factories producing asbestos board were also at a very high risk of asbestos exposure as those workplaces were often filled with asbestos dust.

Sources

Sources

Lavrentev, O.V. "Asbestos Board – An 87-Year Long History of the Heat-Insulating Materials Market." Refractories and Industrial Ceramics, vol. 42 nos. 11-12 (2001).

Parker, Sybil P. McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms ,6th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing, 2002)

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