Asbestos Gaskets

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Gaskets are used in manufacturing to create a seal between pipes, valves and other parts. As recently as the 1980s, brands such as Goodyear and John Crane Inc. manufactured asbestos gaskets. Many industries used these gaskets, putting workers and consumers at risk of developing mesothelioma.

01. Asbestos Use in Gaskets

Why Was Asbestos Used in Gaskets?

The properties of asbestos made it a useful component in the production of gaskets. Asbestos is chemical- and heat-resistant, as well as nonconductive and noncorrosive. Gaskets create a seal between pipes and other machinery components to avoid leaks.

Because gaskets are often used in machines that are exposed to high levels of heat and chemicals, it was important that they were also heat resistant and durable. As such, asbestos was a popular additive for gaskets starting in the early 1900s. Some gaskets manufactured today still contain small quantities of asbestos.

Asbestos Gaskets History at a Glance

  • Other Names: Pipe coverings, seal, ring, cap, stopper, packing, sheet gaskets, sheet packing, asbestos rope, spiral wound gaskets
  • Years of Manufacture: 1900s – Present
  • Military Use: Navy ships, tanks, trucks, weapons, barracks, other military buildings
  • Places Used: Vehicles, ships, boilers, oil refineries, manufacturing plants, power plants
  • Asbestos Use Banned: No
  • Noteworthy Brands: Anchor Packing Company, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company Inc., John Crane Company, Johns-Manville

Dangers of Asbestos in Gaskets

In 2021, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its findings on chrysotile asbestos as part of an ongoing evaluation. The agency’s Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos detailed 32 current uses of chrysotile asbestos, including certain types of gaskets.

The EPA ultimately determined certain asbestos gaskets, among other products, posed an unreasonable risk to the health of consumers and bystanders. The risk evaluation also stated commercial chrysotile asbestos used in sheet gaskets and some other types of gaskets pose an unreasonable risk to workers and occupational non-users.

As a result of these findings on gaskets and other asbestos materials, the EPA will conduct risk management to determine next steps. Advocates are pushing for a ban on asbestos, including asbestos gaskets and other products. Without a ban, individuals continue to risk exposure and developing asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma.

02. List of Asbestos Gaskets

List of Asbestos Gaskets

Asbestos was common in gaskets manufactured from the early 1900s until the 1980s. Today, certain types of gaskets may also still contain small amounts of chrysotile asbestos. Exposure from asbestos in gaskets has affected workers in varying industries, military personnel and consumers.

Different types of gaskets were made with asbestos. For instance, John Crane Company made ring packing gaskets, rope gaskets and braided gaskets that contained asbestos. These different kinds of asbestos gaskets were used in many industries, including shipbuilding, automotive and manufacturing.

Asbestos Gaskets
List of Asbestos Gaskets

Product Name Start Year End Year
A. W. Chesterton Gaskets 1907 1974
Anchor Packing Anchor Gaskets 1908 1984
Anchor Packing Target Sheet Gaskets 1908 1984
Armstrong Accobest Gasket Material
Armstrong Sheet Gasketing Material
Dana Corporation Gaskets 1946 1969
Dana Corporation Sheet Gaskets
Durabla Black Compressed Gasket Material
Durabla Nitrile Gasket Material
Durabla Penpak Compressed Gasket Material
Durabla Universal Black Gasket Material
Flexitallic Spiral Wound Gasket
Garlock Chemiseal Jacketed Gasket 1907 1980
Garlock Pre-Cut Gasketing 1907 1980
Garlock Spiral Wound Gaskets 1907 1980
John Crane Gaskets
Johns-Manville Asbestos Gasketing
Johns-Manville Gaskets
Nicolet Asbestos Gasket Cloth 1962 1972
Unarco Asbestos Gaskets 1940 1969
Westinghouse Gaskets

Numerous manufacturers made and sold asbestos-containing gaskets. The list below includes companies that are known to have manufactured compressed asbestos gaskets and asbestos rope gaskets.

Companies That Produced Asbestos Gaskets

03. Gaskets & Asbestos Exposure

Who Is at Risk of Asbestos Exposure From Gaskets?

The use of asbestos gaskets has put workers in many industries at risk of asbestos exposure. Consumers may also risk exposure from asbestos-containing gaskets. Some types of asbestos gaskets contained high amounts of asbestos.

Researchers have noted some asbestos gaskets contained up to 70% asbestos. These high concentrations put those manufacturing the parts at risk of exposure. Workers in industries that used asbestos gaskets also risked exposure. Installing, scraping off old gaskets or repairing asbestos gaskets could cause fibers to become airborne.

Factories, chemical plants, oil refineries and shipbuilding sites all commonly relied on asbestos gaskets. Workers in these industries may continue to risk exposure from old asbestos gaskets. Some kinds of asbestos gaskets are also still in production, continuing to put people at risk.

Additionally, consumers performing maintenance on vehicles or home repairs may risk exposure when parts are older or imported from other countries.

Occupations at Risk of Exposure From Asbestos in Gaskets

04. Asbestos Lawsuits

Asbestos Lawsuits, Settlements & Other Compensation

In recent decades, lawsuits and claims have been filed against manufacturers that knowingly used asbestos to manufacture gaskets. Various individuals have developed mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses because of exposure to asbestos gaskets. Some victims filed lawsuits against the manufacturers and received compensation.

One notable lawsuit was filed by a former mechanic and his wife. One of the plaintiffs was a maintenance mechanic and hobby race car mechanic. He was exposed to asbestos at work and while working on automobiles at home. The mechanic’s wife often helped her husband overhaul engines in his race cars, a job that required them to scrape out old gaskets. As a result, his wife risked exposure from these car parts. She also experienced secondary exposure from washing her husband’s clothes.

In 2012, the mechic’s wife was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. Despite treatment, the cancer progressed, and she was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2016. She later died in 2017.

Before her passing, the plaintiffs pursued compensation from several manufacturers. The couple filed a lawsuit against Dana Corporation, Crane Corporation, Federal-Mogul Corporation and others. The companies manufactured the boilers, pumps, valves and gaskets that led to exposure. In total, the couple was awarded $75 million.

Asbestos-exposure victims may also be able to receive compensation through asbestos trust funds. Some companies that manufactured asbestos gaskets have gone through bankruptcy proceedings. As a result, the companies set up trust funds to pay claims as they arise. Some examples include:

  • Garlock Sealing Technologies set up a trust fund with more than $500 million to compensate victims.
  • Flexitallic Gasket Company has established a trust with more than $635 million to handle asbestos claims.
05. Asbestos Gaskets Removal

Safely Removing Asbestos Gaskets

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) institutes asbestos removal guidelines for workers tasked with removing and handling asbestos gaskets and other products.

OSHA’s guidelines for removing asbestos gaskets include:

  • Gaskets should be removed intact whenever possible.
  • Gaskets that are deteriorated need to be removed within a glovebag.
  • Gaskets must be immediately placed in a disposal container.
  • All scraping needs to be performed wet.

In addition to adhering to the requirements mentioned above, it’s important that any worker handling asbestos wear the appropriate protective gear. Workers should wear an air-purifying half-mask respirator and adequate work suit.

Once work is completed, work suits must be vacuumed with a HEPA vacuum, and the employee should shower in a designated decontamination area.