Asbestos and Insulation
For most of the twentieth century, American builders relied on asbestos-containing materials (ACM) for all insulation requirements. This choice proved to be a mistake that turned deadly.
Asbestos was thermally inert meaning it doesn’t transfer heat or cold well. Asbestos was also fireproof, and these properties let asbestos serve both roles of heat and fire control. As well, asbestos was chemically stable and didn’t react when blended with other substances.
Asbestos wouldn’t conduct electricity making it ideal for insulating electric wires and cables. Then asbestos was non-corrosive, widely available and inexpensive.
It’s no wonder asbestos became a favorite building material. That was until the mid-1980s when the worst kept secret leaked out. For decades, asbestos manufacturers and suppliers were well aware of long-term health hazards resulting from asbestos exposure. Even government officials were warned about asbestos health risks but failed to act.
Insulation manufacturing was a massive industry with significant money at stake. So, unscrupulous asbestos product makers refused to disclose the deadly effects airborne asbestos fibers caused.
Many people in the asbestos supply and end-user chain also knew how workers like insulation installers faced health risks from asbestos exposure. All were complicit in conspiring to endanger lives of those working with asbestos insulation products and other ACM.