In the 1980’s it became common knowledge that asbestos is dangerous to human health. Before then, asbestos was used in an incredible amount of construction materials. Construction workers are one of the occupational groups most at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma.
Asbestos has been used for hundreds, or possibly thousands, of years but peaked in popularity in the 20th century. Despite knowing that the material is dangerous, companies continued to manufacture, sell, distribute, and use asbestos for decades. Construction workers were exposed while using asbestos materials to build structures.
Any homes or buildings built in the United States between 1900 and 1980 are likely to contain asbestos products. Construction workers who do demolition, renovations, or maintenance to older structures or who were working during that time period are at a high risk of coming into contact with these materials.
Family and loved ones of construction workers are also at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. Sometimes workers brought asbestos dust home with them because it could stick to their clothing. Anyone who lived with them could be exposed, especially if whoever washed the worker's clothes.
Construction workers at risk include:
- Iron workers
- HVAC workers
- Irrigation Workers
- Telecommunication Installers
For most of the 20th century, asbestos was found in a wide variety of construction materials and was considered a wonder material. Asbestos is amazing because it is fire-resistant, a great insulator of temperature and sound, and strong even when stretched. Unfortunately, asbestos’ amazing properties are not worth the incredible damage it can cause to human health. Asbestos can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other diseases.
Common construction materials formerly made with asbestos:
- Boilers and heating systems
- Cement pipe
- Sewage pipe
- Water pipe
- Electrical wire, cable, panels, and switches
- Floor tile and mastics
- Roofing and flooring materials
- Adhesives and sealants
- Thermal insulation products
- Drywall muds and joint compounds
- Insulating cements
- Refractory cements
Now, the United States rarely uses it in products, but it is not banned. We continue to import construction products from countries that use asbestos.
Imported construction supplies containing asbestos:
- Roofing materials
- Vinyl tile
- Cement pipe