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What is a Compound?

In its simplest sense, a compound is a substance made by combining two or more ingredients or parts. The word compound is derived from an Old French word meaning “to put together.” In current usage, “compound” is often associated with a variety of products used in construction and related trades such as plumbing, heating and roofing. Body filler and patching compounds are also used in the auto repair industry.

Unlike a mixture, a compound can’t be physically separated into its original parts once they are combined. Most commercially prepared compounds come in one of two forms: a blend of dry or powdered ingredients to which the user adds a liquid (usually water) to get the desired consistency, or a ready-mixed semi-liquid or paste form. Some manufacturers offer their compound products in both forms to suit customer preferences. Asbestos was sometimes used as a filler in certain compounds, in part because it is resistant to heat, insects and mold, and also because it helped create a smooth, spreadable texture.

Who Works With Compound?

Compounds are widely used in the building trades and there are many types. Drywall hangers use joint compounds to finish drywall seams, and plaster patching compounds to fill holes and cracks. Carpenters may use wood putty and other filler compounds to fill nail and worm holes, mend furniture or even mold small shapes (to repair a piece of carved molding, for instance). Pipe joint compound is used by plumbers to achieve a tight, leak-proof seal on threaded pipe joints. Roofers use asphaltic or bituminous compounds to coat and seal layers of built-up deck roofing, and to seal around chimneys, vents and other openings in a roof.

A less well-known use of compounds is the phenolic molding compounds used by plastics manufacturers to make a wide variety of items such as knobs, gears, handles, small electrical components and more. Asbestos was sometimes used as filler in these compounds when heat resistance or high dielectric strength was needed. Auto mechanics also used body filler compounds to fill dents in metal.

How does Asbestos Exposure Occur When Working with Compound?

Asbestos exposure occurs when microscopic fibers of asbestos are released into the air, where they can be inhaled into the lungs. Exposure from asbestos-containing compounds can occur at many stages of the products’ manufacturing and use. At the manufacturing stage, factory workers responsible for preparing and packaging compounds may be exposed. Dry compounds, such as joint compound, were often packed in pasteboard cartons or paper sacks which could break open or leak at the seams, creating exposure risk for truck drivers, warehouse workers and store employees who handled them. Many compounds were available both to professional tradesmen and to amateur “do-it-yourselfers.” These types of workers could be exposed while mixing powdered products. Some compounds, such as joint compounds and body fillers, were intended to be applied in thin layers, then sanded when dry, creating dust and an additional possibility of exposure. Finally, repairmen, demolition workers and firefighters may be at risk of exposure when structures where asbestos-containing compounds have been used are destroyed. And in any of these occurrences, bystanders may also be at risk.

Compound Products Containing Asbestos

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

Product Name Start Year End Year
Armstrong Ring Facing Material
Bondex Alumanation 301
Bondex Alumanation 350
Bondex F.O. Pierce Dramex
Bondex Formula 1031
Flintkote #229 Antisweat Compound
Georgia-Pacific Bedding Compound 1956 1977
Georgia-Pacific Kalite 1956 1959
Georgia-Pacific Laminating Compound 1969 1969
Georgia-Pacific Topping Compound 1956 1977
H.K. Porter Duoflex 1958 1974
H.K. Porter Laco 1958 1974
Kaiser Aluminum Plastic Chrome Ore
National Gypsum Gold Bond Craftex 1930 1976
National Gypsum Gold Bond Decorite 1930 1976
National Gypsum Gold Bond E-Z Tex 1930 1976
National Gypsum Gold Bond Q-W Compound
National Gypsum Gold Bond Sta-Smooth Compound
National Gypsum Gold Bond Super Westex 1930 1976
National Gypsum Gold Bond Thermo Weld Compound
National Gypsum Gold Bond Topping Compound
National Gypsum Gold Bond Velvet Topping Compound
National Gypsum Gold Bond Velvet Triple-T Compound
National Gypsum Gold Bond Vinyl Topping Compound
National Gypsum Thermo-Weld Compound
National Gypsum Two-in-One Compound
National Gypsum Vinyl Topping Compound
Owens-Corning Fiberglass Ready Mix
Synkoloid Eze Tex 1949 1975
Synkoloid Prime-n-Fill 1950 1975
Synkoloid Snohide 1962 1975
Synkoloid Synko Prime-Rite Wall Size
Synkoloid Synko Pumice
Synkoloid Tex Add 1950 1975
Synkoloid Texwall 1949 1975
Synkoloid Vinyl Prep Mix 1962 1975
W.R. Grace Econo-White 1956 1970
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