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Asbestos Paper

Asbestos in Asbestos Paper Products and Other Building Materials

The term "asbestos paper" can refer to a number of different paper products, ranging from thermal paper (a paper backing product) to insulation. Prior to the 1980s, asbestos paper was very commonly used for its flame retardant properties. Since the turn of the 20th century, asbestos paper was used as insulation for steam pipes, electrical conduits and – since their introduction in the late 1940s – air conditioning units. Some types of asbestos paper backing was sold under brand names such as "Fireclad," "Fireguard" and "Gold Bond."

After the health dangers of asbestos became public knowledge in the wake of the discovery of the "Sumner Simpson Papers" exposing a forty-year cover-up by the asbestos industry, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission made a request of manufacturers, including 3M, GAF Corporation and others, to cease production of asbestos paper products. However, this "request" did not have the force of law, and asbestos paper continued to be sold until the late 1980s.

It is estimated that some 750,000 buildings nationwide may still contain asbestos paper products, making them a hazard for renovation and demolition workers. After a quarter century or more, asbestos paper is likely to have become brittle. In this state, these materials are considered friable, meaning that they release asbestos fibers into the local environment. When such materials are encountered and identified, they should remain undisturbed until a professional asbestos abatement service can be contacted.

Asbestos Paper Products Containing Asbestos

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

Product Name Start Year End Year
3M Sandpaper 1971 1971
Armstrong Accopac Asbestos Paper
Boise Cascade BSC White Paper Products 1967 1974
Celotex Asbestos Papers & RolI Boards 1908 1982
Celotex Carey Corrugated Asbestos Paper 1906 1960
Celotex Carey Fireclad Asbestos Paper
Celotex Carey Fireguard Asbestos Paper
Celotex Carey Thermotex-B
GAF Flat And Corrugated Asbestos Paper 1928 1981
Johns Manville Asbestocel Paper 1902 1931
Johns Manville Asbestos Paper 1920 1980
Johns Manville Commerical Grade Paper 1929 1980
Johns Manville Doublex Asbestos Paper 1936 1980
Johns Manville Fibroid Asbestos Paper 1911 1980
Keene Asbestos Paper
National Gypsum Gold Bond Asbestos Paper
Nicolet Asbestos Paper 1960
Nicolet Asbestos Paper (Commercial) 1939
Nicolet Asbestos Paper (Mfg. Grade) 1930
Raymark Paper 1958
United States Gypsum Asbestos Paper 1936 1939
Westinghouse Paper

Hazards Associated with Asbestos Paper Products

Asbestos paper was used by a wide variety of industrial professionals in an enormous range of applications. The highest risk of exposure was undoubtedly suffered by those who directly mined asbestos, but industrial workers creating and working with asbestos paper products also had severe exposure risk. Mill workers worked directly with asbestos fibers when creating asbestos paper products. Insulation installers and maintenance workers used asbestos paper frequently and would have been exposed to damaged asbestos paper, making inhalation of asbestos fibers very likely. Electricians installing conduit used asbestos paper, as did HVAC technicians and air conditioning repairmen.

More recently, demolition, maintenance, and repair workers laboring at any of the hundreds of thousands of commercial and residential buildings that still contain asbestos paper are undoubtedly exposed to the dangerous fibers whenever they do work on those structures.

Sources

Sources

Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception: The Untold Story of Asbestos (New York: Touchstone, 2003)

OIPA Press Release. "Statement On Asbestos Paper And Major U.S. Manufacturers Of The Product." U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 31 March 1980.

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