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Cement Siding

Asbestos in Cement Siding and Other Building Materials

Asbestos cement siding was used widely in homes and commercial structures. In the 1920s, national associations of insurance underwriters recommended home builders install fireproof buildings by using asbestos cement siding shingles. This was probably a well-intentioned recommendation, as at the time the lethal nature of asbestos was not widely recognized, while everyone understood the danger posed by fire. Unlike wooden shingles, asbestos cement siding material was extremely durable, fireproof, and resistant to most forms of corrosion.

Asbestos cement siding shingles were generally similar in appearance to the wooden siding shingles they replaced, and measured one foot by two feet in size. They were available in a wide range of colors and textures and were very easy to install or replace.

Cement Siding Products Containing Asbestos

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

Product Name Start Year End Year
Celotex Careystone Asbestos Cement Siding
GAF Ruberoid Grain-Tex Asbestos Cement Siding
National Gypsum Asbestos Cement Siding Shingles 1953 1981
United States Gypsum Glatex Asbestos Cement Siding

Hazards Associated with Cement Siding Products

Cement workers in plants where asbestos cement was produced were exposed to the raw asbestos fibers as these were added to the dry mix; construction workers were also at risk, since the hazards of asbestos dust were not fully understood at the time. As a result, protective masks and respirators were not normally issued, and even when available were often not used.

Because asbestos cement siding was so easy to install, replace, and remove, it is very likely that a wide range of construction workers were exposed to these shingles in the course of their building or renovation work. Many small businesses specialized in installing this type of siding on homes and commercial properties. The workers who labored all day handling the asbestos-contaminated material, driving nails through it, etc., were potentially exposed to this dangerous substance and could be at risk for developing mesothelioma.

Sources

Sources

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

Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

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