Asbestos in Wall Tiles and Other Building Materials
Wall tiles, like their flooring counterparts, are made from a number of different materials. Wall tiles are usually made from porcelain or ceramic for use in bathrooms and kitchens. Wall tiles began to contain asbestos in the early 20th century as part of a nationwide push for greater fire resistance in residential and commercial construction.
As public awareness of the dangers of asbestos inhalation began to grow in the mid-20th century, asbestos was banned from domestic production and use in the late 1970s. Asbestos wall tiles may still be installed in older homes and buildings across the U.S. and Canada, and are hazardous if damaged. Renovators and demolition workers should have properties inspected for such materials before starting a project.
In recent years, new wall tiles have again posed an asbestos risk to consumers. A number of wall tile products made from artificial materials designed to resemble quartz or other materials have appeared on the market in recent years – and many of these contain tremolite, a particularly deadly form of asbestos implicated in lung cancer and mesothelioma. Although it was never commercially mined or produced, tremolite is a contaminant in many mineral-based products, including wall tiles manufactured in China. These were recently discovered in Australian building supply stores, where they were being marketed under the "Snow White" brand name.
Wall Tile Products Containing Asbestos
The following partial list of wall tile products were known to contain asbestos:
|Product Name||Start Year||End Year|
|Flintkote Mura-Tex Plastic Wall Tile|
|Flintkote Tile-Tex Wall Tile|
Hazards Associated with Wall Tile Products
Older wall tiles that have become worn or damaged pose an asbestos risk because the asbestos in them has become friable with time, meaning that the asbestos will crumble when disturbed and emit fibers into the air. Airborne fibers are easily inhaled, and the inhalation of these fibers is strongly correlated to the development of asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
New wall tiles that contain tremolite may be technically less dangerous because the asbestos within them has not yet had a chance to become friable, but tremolite is such a dangerous substance that even new tiles containing it must be considered to be highly potentially dangerous.Sources
Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception: The Untold Story of Asbestos (New York: Touchstone, 2003)
N/A. "Warning Issued Over Asbestos Wall Tiles." Sydney Morning Herald, 13 February 2010.