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Asbestos in Gaskets and Other Industrial Materials

Industries such as auto service, pipefitting, shipbuilding, boiler and furnace manufacturing require the use of gaskets in a wide variety of machinery, from tiny pumps to enormous steam turbines. Sometimes, commercially-available, pre-cut gaskets were available, but more often, workers had to cut their own gaskets to fit specific individual machines from sheets of material. During most of the 20th century, these sheets were made from materials that included asbestos fiber.

Gaskets are used for situations in which two flat metal surfaces must be bolted together and a tight seal created between them. When it came to steam pipes and boilers as well as other machine work, it was not often practical to mass produce pre-fitted gaskets, since every application had its own requirements. When the asbestos material was trimmed to fit using a razor knife or other cutting tool, it was not uncommon for asbestos fibers to be released into the air, where they could be inhaled.

Asbestos was of course very useful in numerous industrial applications. It was useful for fire and heat protection; one variety of asbestos (amosite) was also resistant to caustic and corrosive chemicals. As a result, asbestos-containing gaskets were likely to be installed in many types of machinery.

Gaskets Products Containing Asbestos

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

Product Name Start Year End Year
A. W. Chesterton Gaskets 1907 1974
Anchor Packing Anchor Gaskets 1908 1984
Anchor Packing Target Sheet Gaskets 1908 1984
Dana Corporation Gaskets 1946 1969
Dana Corporation Sheet Gaskets
Flexitallic Spiral Wound Gasket
Garlock Chemiseal Jacketed Gaskets 1907 1980
Garlock Pre-Cut Gasketing 1907 1980
Garlock Spiral Wound Gaskets 1907 1980
John Crane Gaskets
Johns Manville Gaskets
Unarco Asbestos Gaskets 1940 1969
Westinghouse Gaskets

Hazards Associated with Gasket Products

Workers in the above named industries, as well as Navy veterans serving aboard confined areas on ships, are considered to be most “at risk” for asbestos exposure from gasket products. This is especially true for those responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of worn asbestos gasket parts. Those involved in the manufacture of asbestos gaskets were also placed at some risk due to the fact that they worked in areas where raw asbestos fiber was stored and used in the manufacturing process.

Secondary asbestos exposure was another common hazard associated with gaskets as asbestos fibers were often likely to lodge in the clothing and hair of workers who then unknowingly brought them into the home, exposing family members.



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

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