Asbestos was used in many different products all throughout the twentieth century. Everything from kitchenware to baby powder could claim to be, in part, made from asbestos. During this time, it was a great thing. Asbestos was a world-renowned product. And why shouldn’t it have been? After all, asbestos was one of the best insulators and fire resistant materials on the planet. However, once the dangers of asbestos were found out—and once the public found out about it twenty years later—asbestos no longer seemed like the ideal material anymore.
One such product that contained asbestos that has since needed to change its composition is fire dampers. Fire dampers are used in buildings to help prevent the spread of a fire should one arise. These items are placed in the walls and ceilings of buildings—often within the duct system—to compartmentalize the space so that if fire penetrates on an area, it will not necessarily spread onto another area. This is of course only possible if the fire dampers are used in accordance with fire doors and other fire resistant materials.
One of the primary materials used to make fire dampers was asbestos. Since asbestos was so resistant to flame, it was the logical choice. However, asbestos soon became known to be linked to several unpleasant conditions, some of which could lead to death. That’s why it’s important to take note of any materials in your home or building where you work that may contain asbestos. Under no circumstances should you try to remove something that you think may contain asbestos on your own. It is often during the removal of such things that the microscopic fibers are spread into the air. This is especially dangerous when working with fire dampers, as they are located in the ducts and near the ventilation systems of a building, making for the easy spread of asbestos in the air.
Inhalation of asbestos can lead to several conditions such as asbestosis and various types of cancer, including those that affect the lungs, stomach, intestines and rectum. Mesothelioma, a type of cancer that affects the membranes around the heart, lungs and abdomen, is specific to asbestos exposure. There are no other known causes of this type of cancer.
Working around asbestos fire dampers is an unsafe practice and can put you at risk for the development of any number of asbestos-related conditions. Remember: it is better to be safe than sorry.