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Stone Sheathing

Asbestos in Stone Sheathing and Other Building Materials

Like wood laminate, stone sheathing is a type of decorative covering for walls and floors. It is part of an architectural approach that dates back to the Hellenistic (Greco-Roman) culture of the ancient Mediterranean.

In ancient Rome or classical Greece, it was real stone that was used to decorate the homes of the wealthy and well-connected. However, by the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a number of artificial substances that looked remarkably like the real thing were available. Although realistic-looking, this artificial stone veneer was much lighter in weight, much easier to work with, and far less costly than actual stone.

The use of asbestos was part of what made this possible. Although light weight, asbestos is actually a form of stone and shares that material’s tensile strength and durability. In addition to the stone sheathing product itself, asbestos was used in the backing and adhesives used to set it in place.

Stone Sheathing Products Containing Asbestos

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

Product Name Start Year End Year
Celotex Careystone Sheathing

Hazards Associated with Stone Sheathing Products

Under normal circumstances, stone sheathing in good condition poses little danger. The same cannot be said for those who worked in the manufacture of it, however; during the sixty-year period between 1920 and 1980, employees working at stone sheathing factories did so without the knowledge that inhaling airborne asbestos fibers could result in life-threatening health complications in years to come. As a result they did not take the necessary safety precautions to protect themselves while working.

Builders and construction workers were equally at risk because the stone sheathing frequently needed to be cut to size when it was being installed. As the material was cut or sawed the potential for asbestos fibers to enter the air was high. The inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers has been linked to several types of severe respiratory illnesses including mesothelioma cancer.

Sources

Sources

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

Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

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