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Filler

Asbestos in Filler Products and Other Building Materials

The term "asbestos filler" is a very general one. In most cases it refers to miscellaneous materials, usually derived from inedible agricultural products (such as corn husks, low-grade cotton, sawdust and nut shells) that are employed in building construction for a wide variety of purposes. Such fillers were added to plastic molding compounds and other silicon-based materials in order to alter their chemical composition to make them more useful for specific industrial purposes.

Some of the companies that were engaged in the manufacture of asbestos filler included General Electric and Union Carbide. Asbestos had many properties, including flame resistance and tensile strength that made it very attractive to these manufacturers; however, the predominant consideration was cost. Asbestos, particularly domestically-mined chrysotile fiber was extremely cheap – yet the finished product could be sold at a substantial markup.

Asbestos filler could be found in a range of consumer and industrial products from resins and adhesives to floor tiles and even toilet seats. Although the use of asbestos in filler was banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1977, the ban did not include existing stocks of these materials that remained on retail shelves. Because of this, products with asbestos filler continued to be used well into the 1980s.

Filler Products Containing Asbestos

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

Product Name Start Year End Year
Bondex Penncraft Block Filler
National Gypsum Panelectric Groove Fill
Raymark Cable Filler

Hazards Associated with Filler Products

These materials are not usually a health hazard if they are intact and in good condition. Aging, deteriorating materials, however, may be friable – meaning that loose asbestos fibers can be released into the environment, where they can remain suspended for many months and even years. This can pose a serious health threat; although consequences are not immediate, it may cause serious respiratory disease in later years, including a cancer known as mesothelioma. Crumbling materials that contain asbestos fillers should be handled by a licensed asbestos abatement service provider.

Sources

Sources

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

Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

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