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Cement Pipe

Asbestos in Cement Pipes and Other Building Materials

Cement pipe containing asbestos was first used in the United States and Canada in 1931, primarily in western states. This kind of concrete pipe was made from a mixture of Portland cement and asbestos fiber; the addition of asbestos made the pipes very durable and resistant to corrosion (cement that contains asbestos fiber is also known as transite). By 1953, the American Water Works Association had put standards into place governing the use of asbestos cement pipe in municipal water systems throughout the country.

The expected service life of these asbestos cement pipes was originally expected to be approximately seventy years. Even today, asbestos cement pipe remains part of a number of city water delivery systems, and these pipes are now starting to reach the end of their useful lifespan. Most municipalities have been working on removing and replacing these pipes over the past thirty years.

While the asbestos contained in these water pipes is not likely to become airborne and cause respiratory disease, there have been serious health consequences for those in communities where public water supplies still travel through asbestos cement pipes. Local environmental issues could cause this type of pipe to deteriorate, leaching asbestos fibers into the water. According to Canadian author Barbara Robson, the problem in Woodstock, New York became so bad in 1985 that residential pipes were clogged with asbestos fibers. Her figures suggest that at one point, there may have been as much as 400,000 miles of asbestos cement pipe in North America.

Cement Pipe Products Containing Asbestos

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

Product Name Start Year End Year
Capco Permaft ex Uaterpipe
CertainTeed Asbestos Cement Pipe 1962 1992
Flintkote Asbestos Cement Pipe
Flintkote Cement Pipe
Flintkote Orangeburg Cement Pipe
GAF Ruberoid Eternit Pressure Pipe
Johns Manville Transite Pipe 1906 1975
Keene Ehret Durant Insulated Pipe 1938 1945

Hazards Associated with Cement Pipe Products

Workers in cement factories where transite cement was produced were at significant risk of inhaling asbestos during the production process, as they worked with raw asbestos fibers while generally having very little respiratory equipment that would have provided effective protection from airborne asbestos. Municipal sewer and water workers involved with the removal of asbestos cement pipes may have been exposed to asbestos fiber in the removal process, as could repair workers patching or augmenting existing transite pipe systems. However, the main risk from asbestos cement pipes comes from the possibility of ingesting water contaminated with loose fibers. Individuals who lived in areas where transite pipe was used in the water system may be at enhanced risk of developing peritoneal mesothelioma from the ingestion of asbestos material.



Friedline, Jack and Keith Nath. "Policy Statement for REMOVAL AND DISPOSAL OF ASBESTOS CEMENT PIPE in the City of Mesa, Arizona." 29 September 1999.

Robson, Barbara. "Asbestos: 400,000 Miles of Drinking Water Pipes May Have Been Made With The Deadly Substance." Accessed 03 January 2011.

Sadler, Terry D. et. al. "The Use Of Asbestos-Cement Pipe For Public Water Supply and the Incidence of Cancer in Selected Communities in Utah." Journal of Community Health, vol. 9 no. 4 (Summer 1984)

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