Furnaces and Asbestos Exposure
Furnaces replaced radiant fireplaces in American buildings in the mid-1800s. Since then, there’ve been significant advances in furnace technology including different heat-generating fuels. There’s also been a change in furnace construction.
Before the mid-1980s, every furnace in the nation contained deadly asbestos materials.
Furnaces consisted of components like firebox refractories, boilers, ducts, registers, flues and chimney. Stoves and kilns were also considered furnaces. So were giant steel smelters and industrial incinerators.
No matter what part or type of furnace, asbestos-containing materials (ACM) were standard in furnace construction and installation.
Furnaces contained asbestos products mainly because of the material’s ability to withstand extreme heat. Some furnaces reach temperatures over 3,000 degrees, but that did not affect asbestos materials. This material seemed a miracle to the furnace industry.
Not only was asbestos non-flammable, it was also non-corrosive, electrically non-conductive and chemically inert.
Asbestos didn’t react with wood, coal, oil, or gas fossil fuels. And to seem even better, asbestos was easy to work with, stable when added to other materials and readily available. Plus, asbestos was cheap.