Asbestos in Caulking Explained
Caulk products were designed to be weatherproof, heatproof, waterproof, and durable, which is why asbestos in caulking was added to reinforce the formula.
Asbestos in caulking was most commonly used in ‘window putty,’ to help retain heat and reduce drafts.
Common places in the home that may have asbestos-containing caulk are around the seals of ovens, fireplaces, boilers, pipe joints, ducts, brickwork, and exteriors.
Asbestos fibers cannot be released from caulking unless the caulk is damaged by aging, water, impact, drilling, sanding, scraping, or attempts to remove it.
Caulking is particularly dangerous when houses are undergoing renovations or demolitions, as the asbestos becomes disturbed and can circulate throughout the air.
In construction, caulking was used to close gaps between pipes or panels, which means that workers today, such as plumbers and electricians, can be exposed to the fibers when repairing or maintaining these areas.
Asbestos in Caulking Products Today
In 1993, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that window putty containing asbestos was not required to be removed from a building before demolition, but that the caulking will become regulated and removed if it becomes brittle.
Once caulking breaks down and becomes friable, the asbestos particles are dangerous. At this point, the EPA recommends seeking professional advice on how to remove the caulking and replace it with an asbestos-free alternative.
Being around asbestos fibers can be detrimental to health as the microscopic particles are easily inhaled. Once they reach the lining of the lungs, the heart, or the abdomen they can become attached and cause mesothelioma tumors.