Asbestos has been called a “magic mineral” because of its wide-ranging uses. Because of this, not only was it common in the military, many industries, and in homes, there were also many products with asbestos used in everyday life.
Beginning in the 1950s, it could be found in thousands of products, including:
- Cigarette filters
- Fake logs in gas fireplaces
- Fake snow on movie sets
Asbestos was used so commonly that millions of people were exposed. Peak production of asbestos was in the 1970s with bans on asbestos coming into play at the end of the decade.
Asbestos exposure is still a risk today, as it lurks in buildings and homes built before the 1970s. It was used so widely that health officials and regulatory agencies are still trying to figure out how to handle the asbestos that is already out there.
Before bans on asbestos use began taking place, asbestos was commonly used in the construction of buildings and homes.
Because it is fireproof, asbestos was used in:
- Roofing shingles
- Heating equipment
- Air-conditioning equipment
The heat resistant quality of asbestos made it a staple in vehicle parts that involve constant friction.
These vehicle parts include:
- Brake pads and linings
- Fume hoods
- Heat seals
- Hood liners
- Clutch linings
- Transmission plates
Shipbuilding in the U.S. Military relied on asbestos as a miracle material. It was considered perfect for insulation in steam pipes and fuel lines. Since asbestos is non-conductive, it was used to coat miles of electrical cables.
Asbestos was also found in:
- Boilers, fireboxes, and liners
- Pumps, valves, and hydraulics
- Gaskets, packings, sealants, and adhesives
- Spray-on, block, batt, and loose-fill insulation
- Pipe and duct wrappings
- Electrical wire coatings
- Deck and floor tiles
- Paint and wallboard
- Soundproofing materials
- Capacitors, meters, dielectric paper, and relays
- Instruments and instrument paneling
- Cement powder and mortar mix
Are Asbestos Products Banned?
Despite the health risks that asbestos exposure is known to cause, it is still not completely banned.
In 1989, the EPA made a final ruling on the Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out Rule, banning most asbestos-containing products. The regulation was overturned in 1991 with dozens of products still manufactured today.
As recently as April of 2019, the EPA ruled that asbestos products that are no longer on the market cannot return without the EPA first evaluating them.
Some products that are banned today include:
- Adhesives, sealants, roof, and non-roof coatings
- Arc chutes
- Beater-add gaskets
- Cement products
- Extruded sealant tape and other tapes
- Filler for acetylene cylinders
- Friction materials
- High-grade electrical paper
- Missile liner
- Pipeline wrap
- Reinforced plastics
- Roofing felt
- Separators in fuel cells and batteries
- Vinyl-asbestos floor tile
- Woven products
- Asbestos fireplace decorations
- Asbestos filters for pharmaceutical manufacturing
In 1989, the EPA banned new uses of flooring felt, rollboard, and corrugated, commercial, or specialty paper.