Asbestos in Cork Board Exposure and Risks

Summary

Asbestos was added to many surprising materials, including cork. However, it is unlikely that asbestos will be found in a bottle stopper or a bulletin board since there is no benefit in fireproofing either. Asbestos was embraced for its effectiveness as noncombustible insulating material. Asbestos was more commonly used in products like cork insulation, floor tiles, ceiling tiles and wall paneling.

Cork is a plant material harvested from a single species of oak, the quercus suber. Commonly known as the “cork oak,” this tree grows exclusively in a Mediterranean climate. More half the cork on the world market comes from Portugal and Spain.

Asbestos in Cork Board Explained

Cork is lightweight, water-resistant and porous. The small pockets of air throughout the material trap heat and make cork an excellent insulator. Furthermore, it is durable and can compress up to 40% and still return to its original size.

There are many uses for this unique wood, including:

  • Stoppers in wine bottles
  • Bulletin boards
  • Mixed into cement to absorb energy and make the cement less brittle
  • Varnished floor tiles
  • The backing of vinyl tiles
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Wall paneling
  • Insulated steam pipes and heating conduits

It’s not widely known that there may be asbestos in cork board. Before the dangers of asbestos were widely known, it was praised for its superior properties as a durable, affordable, lightweight, insulating, fireproofing material.

Since cork materials are used in insulation in hot environments and homes, asbestos was added as an “improvement”.

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Who Was Exposed to Asbestos in Cork Board?

As an organic material, cork is affected by decomposition. It can break apart and crumble. When the structure of the cork changes during the aging, cutting, drilling or demolition process, asbestos fibers are released into the air.

If your home was constructed with asbestos-containing cork materials, you and your family are likely inhaling, or even ingesting, small amounts of asbestos.

The highest risk of exposure, however, is not to those spending time in an environment with asbestos-containing cork products. Those installing, maintaining or demolishing the material are the most vulnerable to the dangers of asbestos.

MJN Brief

Workers who handled cork insulation materials that contained asbestos are at the highest risk of developing asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma.

Health Risks of Asbestos in Cork Board

When asbestos-containing materials such as corkboard are disturbed, the microscopic asbestos particles are released into the air. Once airborne, the fibers can be inhaled or ingested.

Asbestos fibers can become lodged in the lining of the lungs (pleura), abdomen (peritoneum) or heart (pericardium), where they cause irritation and inflammation to surrounding tissue. Lodged asbestos fibers can lead to chronic conditions like asbestosis and pleural plaque.

In some cases, stuck asbestos fibers mutate healthy cells, turning them into cancerous mesothelioma cells. Mesothelioma has a long latency period and asbestos fibers can lie dormant in organ linings for decades before producing symptoms.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that can spread to other tissue outside of the lungs, abdomen or heart. It requires specialized treatment plans administered by experienced mesothelioma doctors.

If you have been exposed to asbestos by cork products. it’s essential to report your symptoms. An early and accurate diagnosis can drastically change your prognosis.

Access Asbestos Trust Funds

Compensation for treatment, loss of income and other damages is available through Asbestos Trust Funds. Workers with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses may qualify.

Find Out If You Qualify

Seeking Justice for Asbestos Exposure

Even after the adverse health effects of asbestos were exposed, many companies continued manufacturing products containing the toxic substance. Asbestos was gradually phased out of building materials throughout the 1970s and 1980s. However, some asbestos-containing products like cork board were installed in homes and public places up until the 21st century.

If you worked around asbestos-containing cork board and you’ve received a mesothelioma diagnosis, you may be eligible for legal compensation. Contact the Justice Support team today by calling us at (888) 360-4215. Or request a FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to understand your next steps as a mesothelioma victim.

View Author and Sources
Sources
  1. InspectApedia, “Age of Building Flooring Materials”, Retrieved from: https://inspectapedia.com/interiors/Age_of_Flooring.php. Accessed on June 11, 2018.
  2. InspectApedia, “History and Components of Asbestos-Containing Flooring”, Retrieved from: https://inspectapedia.com/interiors/Floor_Tile_History.php. Accessed on June 11, 2018.
  3. InspectApedia, “Master Photo Guide to Asbestos-Containing Products and Materials”. Retrieved from: https://inspectapedia.com/hazmat/Asbestos_Materials_Photo_Guide.php. Accessed on June 11, 2018.

Last modified: June 15, 2018