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Asbestos in Paint and Other Building Materials

During the 19th century, asbestos was seen as a miracle substance that could go a long way toward preventing damaging fire. As a result, asbestos fiber was added to virtually every building material, including building and machine paint. From the late 19th century up until the 1980s, asbestos paint contained as much as 10% asbestos fiber by volume.

These paints were used in residences, schools and other public buildings as well as commercial establishments, and maritime vessels. Asbestos paint was an inexpensive and efficient method of making any structure more fire-resistant, and was widely used in many applications for decades. When the health risks of asbestos exposure became more widely understood by the general public in the 1970s, however, most uses of asbestos were banned, and today asbestos paint is not generally produced or sold in the United States.

Paint Products Containing Asbestos

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

Product Name Start Year End Year
Bondex Dramex Ready Mixed Textured Paint
Bondex Dramex Spanish Texturing Paint
Bondex Dramex Texture Paint
Bondex Metro Spanish Texture Paint (NYC only)
Bondex Reardon’s All Purpose Joint Topping and Texture Paint
Bondex Trax, Texture Paint
Kelly-Moore Paco Texture Paint
Kelly-Moore Paco Topping Compound 1963 1978
National Gypsum Craftco Cement Paint
National Gypsum Gold Bond Texture Paint
United States Gypsum Spray Texture Paint/Finish
United States Gypsum Texture Paint

Hazards Associated with Paint Products

Medical researchers began to suspect the health dangers of asbestos as early as the 1890s; by the mid 1930s, there was little doubt that asbestos was responsible for several types of respiratory diseases.

In the early days, the fibers were usually mixed into the pigment just before application, exposing those who worked as painters to serious health risks. After application, the asbestos risk was minimal at first. However, asbestos in paint presents a danger when it is sanded or starts to flake off the surfaces to which it has been applied. Fortunately, there are a number of commercial sealants available that can encapsulate this asbestos material. Otherwise, surfaces with asbestos paint applied should be dealt with by professional asbestos removal experts.

Sources

Sources

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

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