Asbestos Fireproofing and Fire-Resistant Materials

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Asbestos was often used in products to fireproof homes, buildings and machines. Manufacturers used asbestos in insulation, spray-on fireproofing and more. These products may still be present in older buildings and machines. As the products age or become damaged, they can lead to asbestos exposure.

01. Asbestos Use in Fireproofing Materials

Why Was Asbestos Used in Fireproofing Materials?

Asbestos is a fire-retardant material. This means it can slow the spread of fire. The mineral is durable and heat resistant. While it has fire-resistant properties, fire can still damage it.

Companies added asbestos to many products, including fireproofing materials, through the 1980s. It was readily available and inexpensive to produce. Some asbestos products were used in homes and other buildings and may contain 5% – 30% asbestos fibers.

Asbestos was also woven into textiles to create fireproof clothing and blankets. For example, the protective gear firefighters wore had asbestos in it. Other occupations that work around high temperatures may have used fire protective gear, like asbestos gloves.

Asbestos Fireproofing Materials History at a Glance

Dangers of Asbestos in Fireproofing Materials

The use of asbestos in fire-resistant materials may pose health risks to many different people. Anyone who works with or around these asbestos-containing materials may risk exposure when the materials become worn or damaged.

Worn or damaged asbestos can become friable, meaning it is brittle and easily broken. Friable asbestos may become airborne when disturbed and is a health hazard.

Anyone who inhales or swallows airborne asbestos faces the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease. These diseases include asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer and others.

In 1983, researchers studied 127 buildings with spray-on fireproofing and found roughly 50% had asbestos. The researchers also studied how much asbestos became airborne during the removal of dry materials. They found this method exposed workers to concentrations of more than 16 fibers per cubic centimeter. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the safe level is one fiber per cubic centimeter over 30 minutes.

A dramatic example of asbestos exposure happened at the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City. When the World Trade Center was constructed, builders used asbestos spray-on coatings as fireproofing. They also used asbestos-containing ceiling tiles and drywall.

When the towers fell on 9/11, asbestos dust was released into the air. Many first responders and people nearby were exposed.

02. List of Asbestos Fireproofing Materials

List of Asbestos Fireproofing Materials

Asbestos materials used for fireproofing primarily consist of construction materials and textiles. Companies made these asbestos-containing products starting in the 1800s. Some U.S. products were manufactured into the 1980s. Anyone who handled these materials may have risked exposure.

Fireproof building materials with asbestos include:

Besides construction materials, companies used asbestos in textiles. The practice of weaving asbestos into fabrics dates back centuries. In the United States, companies reportedly stopped making asbestos textiles, but other countries still do. Fireproof consumer products made with asbestos include:

Some of these fireproof materials may still be in homes or other buildings. An asbestos abatement professional can safely remove them. Homeowners should never attempt to repair or remove these materials themselves. These activities may lead to asbestos exposure.

Anyone who has developed an asbestos-related disease may be eligible for compensation. Mesothelioma lawyers can help affected individuals understand their options. Options may include filing mesothelioma lawsuits and claims against companies that made these fireproofing products.

03. Fireproof Materials & Asbestos Exposure

Who Is at Risk of Asbestos Exposure From Fireproofing Materials?

Many people may still be at risk of asbestos exposure from fire-resistant materials. The popularity of these materials through the 1970s means many older homes and buildings contain them today.

Homeowners may also face exposure risks if asbestos materials in their homes become worn or damaged. Certain activities, like repairs and renovations, may lead to asbestos exposure.

Many occupations also encountered asbestos fireproofing products. Examples include builders, factory workers and insulators. Anyone who worked with or around these products may face exposure risks.

Occupations at Risk of Exposure From Asbestos Fire-Resistant Materials

04. Asbestos Lawsuits

Asbestos Lawsuits, Settlements & Other Compensation

Anyone who develops an asbestos-related disease from fireproofing materials may be eligible for compensation. Compensation options may include asbestos lawsuits, asbestos trust fund claims or workers’ compensation claims.

Asbestos attorneys can help determine the best options for individuals. These attorneys have the resources and experience to handle complex asbestos cases.

Some companies have declared bankruptcy because of asbestos lawsuits. When companies do this, they often establish asbestos trust funds. These trust funds provide compensation to people with verifiable asbestos exposure.

Some notable asbestos companies with trust funds include:

  • Armstrong World Industries
  • Combustion Engineering
  • The Flintkote Company
  • Harbison-Walker Refractories Company
  • Johns-Manville
  • U.S. Gypsum Company
  • W.R. Grace

Any compensation from a lawsuit, settlement or claim may help mesothelioma patients with medical costs. Mesothelioma compensation may also cover other expenses and lost income.

Compensation Following Exposure From Fireproofing Materials

Many people who have developed an asbestos-related disease have been awarded compensation. In some cases, their asbestos exposure resulted from working with or around asbestos fireproofing materials.

In 1999, a jury awarded over $2 million to a retired millwright who was exposed to asbestos while on the job:

  • Doctors diagnosed the millwright with pleural mesothelioma in 1999. The man and his wife filed a lawsuit against his former employers. The man came into contact with asbestos cement, fireproofing spray and pipe covering at work. A jury verdict awarded the man more than $2 million. They also awarded $125,000 to his wife.

People may also risk secondary exposure. This type of exposure happens when one person brings the mineral home on their clothes or in their hair.

A 2019 case awarded more than $2 million to a woman whose husband worked as an electrical and instrumentation technician. The case is an example of secondary exposure:

  • The woman developed peritoneal mesothelioma after washing her husband’s work clothes when he got home each night. The man worked at a paper mill that had large boilers to supply electricity. The boilers had asbestos insulation materials and fireproofing around them. The jury awarded the woman more than $2 million.

Anyone who has experienced negative health effects from asbestos products can contact a mesothelioma law firm. Experienced asbestos attorneys can help victims and their loved ones seek compensation.