Since the late 1800’s, asbestos has been available to consumers in numerous commercial goods throughout the United States . Because of its low conductivity, non-combustibility, superior insulation qualities and fairly low cost, asbestos was an ideal substance to be used in the production of construction materials for the building of homes, offices and other structures. One such construction material was asbestos finishing cement. Asbestos finishing cement, a mixture of asbestos fibers and material binders, was used to protect and add insulation to many structures of that time. Its even and pliable consistency made it very easy to apply to almost any surface or plane which rendered the compound a useful tool in the construction trade.
In 1977, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) prohibited the manufacturing of most construction materials containing at least one percent of asbestos fibers. However, since this ban pertained only to new production of such materials, the existing stock which was already on the market could still be used. Though the injunction was instated in the late 70’s, homes built almost anytime from the early to mid 80’s may still contain building materials made with asbestos, including that of finishing cements, which are said to have contained a minimum of 20% asbestos.
As with any product containing asbestos, finishing cement poses a danger to the public under specific conditions. If the finishing cement is left unbroken or undamaged, the asbestos, which is locked within the layers of the binding material, does not have the ability to become airborne and is not considered a threat to an individual’s health. If it were to crack and crumble or be broken, the cancer causing fibers can then be released into the air and inhaled into the lungs. The slightest exposure to asbestos has been attributed to mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases so the use of caution is advised when materials suspected to contain asbestos are found in the home. If a homeowner is unsure, it is always best to contact a professional to inspect and dispose of the materials in question.
Individuals involved in plumbing, pipefitting, insulating, and similar trades are most at risk of contracting mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases. Due to the use of asbestos in finishing cement, among other products known to contain asbestos, general construction workers, those involved in demolition, remodeling and maintenance, also run a possibility of contracting these diseases.