The origins of duct tape, originally dubbed “Duck” tape, date back to the 1940s when the U.S. Military asked Permacel, a division of Johnson & Johnson, to manufacture a waterproof tape that could protect ammunition cases from the damages of moisture. As recruits began working with this adhesive product, they soon discovered it could be used for more than just keeping things dry and started utilizing it to repair their gear and equipment. When the war came to an end, this versatile tool quickly found its way into the lives of the general public and was put to use for a number of purposes, most notably to wrap the joints of duct work in heating and cooling systems within the home, hence the basis of the now common name – duct tape.
Currently, duct tape is free of asbestos, but the old adhesive tape, generally white in color, used in the duct work of buildings built before 1980, may contain these cancer causing fibers. If found in the home, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises homeowners to not disturb the tape, but instead, have this potential health hazard hermetically sealed to further avoid the release of asbestos fibers into the household environment. When this old duct tape is broken or damaged, it’s highly recommended that a professional service company be enlisted to remove the asbestos from the home as its dust may be released into the air and inhaled into the lungs. Once asbestos is introduced into the body, a person’s chances of developing mesothelioma, an extremely fatal form of cancer that affects the lining around the lungs and other organs, and other asbestos-related diseases increases greatly.
People should also be aware of the environment in which they work. Another major concern is for older public buildings where the duct work, among other features, may not have been updated or replaced safely, as a great deal of its asbestos removal has not met the current federal standards, allowing it to be gradually introduced into the work setting. As aging asbestos is left in place, there is no guarantee of its safety, and it may find its way into the air when it is disrupted or begins to deteriorate. Any exposure to asbestos has its health risks, as no safe level of contact with this cancer causing fiber has ever been established. The mere introduction of asbestos could pose a problem to an individual’s wellbeing.