It has been decades since asbestos was first used in different industries around the globe. Though its use began rapidly declining since late 1970s, it has not been fully eliminated up to this date. Insulation is the biggest sector that utilizes asbestos and even newer asbestos-containing products in the market today contain traces of this harmful toxin, thus exposing consumers on daily basis without their own knowledge. Currently, at least 1% of asbestos is still legal to be used within the United States which may seem like a small amount but bear in mind that even the briefest exposure to asbestos is already enough to implicate human health.
Adding Asbestos to Products
Asbestos has been added to countless products since way back in history mainly because of the low costs involved in obtaining in apart from its high level of durability. Manufacturers have since made use of this harmful mineral in their products such as cement, brakes, and adhesives because they are basically resistant to heat and fire. Unfortunately, asbestos fibers that are added to products can cause various diseases like mesothelioma if the fibers become airborne when disturbed. As per recent data, approximately 2 million tons of asbestos are produced around the world every year. While the U.S. has stopped mining asbestos, the nation still continues to import for use by various industries.
Common Products with Asbestos
Asbestos can be found in numerous products and sectors, and it is not known how far the extent of asbestos usage has stretched so far. Some of the most common uses of asbestos fibers in consumer products are as follows:
- Construction materials: Asbestos has been most widely used within the construction industry and according to records, almost 70 to 80% of all asbestos consumption is accounted by this particular sector throughout the 20th century.
- Asbestos insulation: This is the most prevalent source of asbestos exposure which is cased by its widespread use in the past which continues to be present in older homes. Most commonly, an asbestos type – vermiculite was used for wall and attic insulation across the nation.
- Automotive parts: Asbestos used to be utilized extensively within the automotive industry. Today, a number of new automotive products such as brakes are still allowed to contain up to 1% of asbestos. This is due to its high friction and good capacity to withstand high temperatures.
- Fireproofing materials: Asbestos used to be added to products in order to improve their fireproofing abilities. Some products are fully made out of asbestos, while others only contain a certain percentage of it.
- Consumer goods: Many consumer goods manufactured between 1930 and 1970 made use of asbestos fibers to protect against high temperatures and friction which may cause burns while being used.
- Talcum powder: Pure talcum powder is safe for usage but some talc products that were contaminated with asbestos managed to make its way into the market. Slight exposure to its fibers is enough to pose risks of ovarian cancer and other diseases in women.