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Asbestos Construction Products

Expert Fact Checked

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Jennifer Lucarelli Lawyer and Legal Advisor

For decades, asbestos construction products were widely used in homes, schools and other buildings. Asbestos made materials more durable and heat resistant. As a result, workers in the construction industry may risk asbestos exposure. Residents in older homes may also risk exposure to asbestos materials.

01. Asbestos Use in Construction Products

Why Was Asbestos Used in Construction Products?

In the United States, asbestos has been added to construction products for decades. The mineral was a common additive to improve durability and resistance to high temperatures.

Different types of asbestos were used in construction products. Research suggests about 5% of asbestos building materials used in the United States contained amosite asbestos. Chrysotile asbestos was also popular in building materials. Researchers estimate chrysotile asbestos made up 90 – 95% of asbestos use in buildings in North America.

Homes and buildings constructed before the 1980s are most at risk of containing asbestos products. Construction materials likely to contain asbestos include popcorn ceiling products, ceiling tiles and vinyl floor tiles.

Asbestos Construction Products History at a Glance

Today, rules and regulations restrict the use of asbestos construction materials. However, old homes constructed before the 1980s may contain asbestos. Renovations or demolition of these structures may pose a risk to residents and workers.

Dangers of Asbestos in Construction Products

Asbestos construction materials may become dangerous when they are disturbed. Home renovations, building demolition or crumbling structures may lead to airborne asbestos fibers.

Asbestos in the air can put individuals nearby at risk of exposure. Construction workers and others who may come in contact with older construction materials are among the most at risk of exposure. Asbestos exposure may lead to diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma.

In one study, researchers analyzed the health of 16,696 Finnish construction workers from 1990 to 2000. Researchers found construction workers were at higher risk of mesothelioma. The study also found insulators were among the most at risk of developing lung cancer.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversee rules to protect workers from exposure. However, researchers estimate approximately 1.3 million U.S. workers in the construction industry still risk asbestos exposure.

02. List of Asbestos Construction Products

Asbestos Construction Products List

Asbestos was a common additive to construction products for decades. These materials may still be present in many homes, buildings and other structures. Individuals who come in contact with old construction materials may be exposed to asbestos fibers.

Asbestos construction materials may be present in several areas in the home such as flooring and drywall. Other asbestos construction materials include:

Many U.S. companies made construction materials containing asbestos. As a result, thousands of people have experienced exposure. Individuals may file a lawsuit against negligent asbestos companies responsible for their asbestos exposure.

03. Construction Materials & Asbestos Exposure

Who Is at Risk of Asbestos Exposure From Construction Materials?

Individuals who handle asbestos construction materials may risk asbestos exposure. Workers in the construction industry are at a particularly high risk of occupational exposure.

Those in high-risk occupations must be aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure. Following regulations, such as using protective equipment, when working with old building materials can help prevent asbestos-related diseases, including malignant mesothelioma.

Occupations at Risk of Exposure From Asbestos Construction Products

Undisturbed, asbestos-containing products may not pose a large risk. However, workers who unknowingly handle asbestos materials or don’t follow regulations may cause fibers to become airborne. Natural disasters may also unexpectedly disturb the material.

High-risk occupations should ensure all workplace asbestos regulations are met. Workers should be cautious when addressing potential asbestos-containing materials. Similar precautions apply to homeowners, especially when renovating and remodeling older homes.

Residents living in a home or building constructed with asbestos construction materials may also be at risk of exposure. As construction materials age, they may break down and become friable.

04. Asbestos Lawsuits

Asbestos Lawsuits, Settlements & Other Compensation

Individuals exposed to asbestos construction materials who later develop a related illness may seek financial compensation. Asbestos victims may contact an asbestos attorney to learn about their options and for assistance filing a lawsuit. Depending on an individual’s situation, they may file:

Many asbestos-exposure victims have received mesothelioma settlements and awards. Family members of asbestos victims may also file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of an asbestos victim.

In some cases, individuals may also file an asbestos trust fund claim. Companies that face a large number of asbestos lawsuits may establish a trust fund as part of bankruptcy proceedings. These trusts enable the bankrupt companies to compensate current and future victims.

Several companies that manufactured construction materials have established asbestos trusts. Notable asbestos companies with trust funds that pay out individuals with asbestos illnesses are:

  • Bondex International
  • Congoleum
  • GAF Corporation
  • Garlock Sealing Technologies
  • Kaiser Aluminum
  • Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc.
  • The Flintkote Company

Financial compensation may help mesothelioma patients and their loved ones pay for treatment, lost wages and/or funeral expenses.

Construction Worker’s Wife Awarded $6.8 Million

In 2009, a woman was diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of secondhand asbestos exposure. The woman’s husband worked as a maintenance and construction worker for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP).

The woman’s husband frequently worked with asbestos cement pipes made by Johns-Manville and CertainTeed Corporation. When asbestos cement pipes were cut, dust would fall on workers’ hair and clothes. He would frequently handle and sweep asbestos dust. He would sometimes also help cut the asbestos cement pipes.

The couple owned one car, and the woman would often drive her husband to and from work. She was likely exposed to asbestos dust from her husband’s clothes.

The couple filed a lawsuit against Johns-Manville and CertainTeed Corporation. The jury awarded the woman approximately $6.8 million for medical expenses, lost social security benefits and pain and suffering.

05. Asbestos Construction Products Removal

Safely Removing Asbestos Construction Products

The EPA, OSHA and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have put regulations in place to prevent harmful production and exposure to asbestos products. However, asbestos may still be present in some products and structures.

If construction workers attempt to remove asbestos materials, they may risk exposure. In a Polish study, researchers studied workers who removed asbestos cement. Researchers found high concentrations of asbestos fibers at these jobsites that exceeded legal limits. Workers repeatedly exposed to asbestos in such conditions face a higher risk of developing an asbestos illness.

If workers or residents encounter asbestos construction materials, they should contact an asbestos abatement professional. Only professionals trained to handle asbestos materials should remove and dispose of the mineral. Improper asbestos removal may result in dangerous exposure and health risks.