Asbestos in Electric Wiring Exposure and Risks

Asbestos was a common material used in electrical wiring insulation, which is used to prevent deadly fires in buildings. In fact, asbestos was a typical ingredient in many construction materials, because of its incredible ability to block fire, heat and water. Unfortunately, asbestos was too good to be true, and the same electrical wiring insulation that protected against fire was putting people at risk of developing a ruthless form of cancer.

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Electrical wiring is found in every facility that has electricity. Almost all electric wiring is insulated by electrical cloth, a fire and heat-resistant material wrapped around metal wires to prevent fire. If an electrical short occurs resulting in a spark, the spark would be dampened by the electrical cloth and die out.

Asbestos in Electric Wiring Explained

Before the 1980s, asbestos was a common ingredient in the cloth used for electric wiring. Asbestos is fire, heat and water-resistant, making it an incredibly durable material. Because it could be mined across the country, it became cost-effective and easy to source as well.

Unfortunately, scientists discovered that asbestos wasn’t the miracle material that many thought it was. Despite its many desirable properties, the asbestos used in electric wiring poses a significant and serious health concern that has killed many Americans and electrical workers throughout the world.

Even once the danger of asbestos was discovered, it still took over a decade for American companies to discontinue using asbestos in everyday items like electric wiring.

The electric wiring insulation manufactured today does not use asbestos. However, many homes and facilities constructed in decades past will still contain asbestos, presenting an ongoing danger to the people who work and live in these buildings.

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Exposure to asbestos has led to thousands of mesothelioma diagnoses. If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the Mesothelioma Justice Guide will help you understand your rights and know the next steps.

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Who Was Exposed to Asbestos in Electric Wiring?

Individuals working with electric wiring insulation either in manufacturing or building are at the highest risk of being exposed to asbestos.

In the past, this risk was often from installation work, as workers would directly handle, cut and manipulate the electric wiring insulation as needed. Today, the risk of asbestos exposure is reduced, but still exists every time a person works with electrical components of a building built before asbestos was phased out.

The people most likely to be exposed to the asbestos in electric wiring include:

When working with existing wiring insulation that’s likely to contain asbestos, it’s critical that workers use all available precautions to prevent and minimize exposure. Exposure dangers are amplified by the friable nature of asbestos, which makes fibers more likely to break down and become airborne as they age.

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Even now, people who have asbestos-containing electric wiring in their offices, commercial spaces, and homes may be exposed to asbestos, especially if they have DIY inclinations and the buildings were constructed before the 1980s.

Health Risks of Asbestos in Electric Wiring

Asbestos in electric wiring insulation poses a serious health risk and is part of a national crisis that continues to this day.

Asbestos that is moved, cut or otherwise disturbed can send microscopic fibers into the air, which can then be inhaled by any person in the surrounding area.

Once inhaled, these asbestos fibers work their way into the body and can become stuck in the soft lining of the abdomen, lungs or heart. Stuck fibers can trigger a mutation in nearby cells, which transforms them into mesothelioma cells.

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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.

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Mesothelioma is challenging to detect in its early stages, as most victims don’t display symptoms until mesothelioma has progressed into stage 3 or 4. At this point, the cancer is incredibly difficult to destroy and has a poor prognosis.

The majority of victims diagnosed with mesothelioma have a survival rate of fewer than 5 years.

Asbestos can also cause asbestosis, a dangerous form of scarring on the lungs that is linked to respiratory conditions, heart failure and additional types of cancer.

Seeking Justice for Asbestos Exposure

The asbestos in electric wiring insulation can have devastating physical and mental health impacts. Fortunately, resources are available to help alleviate some of the burden of mesothelioma for the victims and their families.

If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our Justice Support Team now to access the support and resources you need. Call us at (888) 360-4215 or register to receive our FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to understand your next steps as a mesothelioma victim.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: May 22, 2019

View 2 Sources
  1. Inspectapedia, “Asbestos Electrical Insulation.” Retrieved from  Accessed on June 10, 2018.
  2. Electrician Talk, “Does old wire contain asbestos?” Retrieved from:  Accessed on June 10, 2018.
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