Lagging adhesive is a water-based bonding agent used mainly in conjunction with lagging cloth to seal any openings or gaps in heating- and cooling-duct work, as well as other ventilation systems where the heated or cooled air could potentially escape. Many manufacturers that produced lagging adhesive were always searching for more cost-effective ways to fabricate their product.Asbestos became the perfect solution. It was not only widely available and extremely low in cost, but also exceedingly durable, flexible and resistant to heat.
As with any asbestos-containing product, if left in good condition, lagging adhesive poses no serious health risk. Any carcinogens found within the compound are held to the item in which it was applied. However, as the adhesive ages, it may begin to weaken and break down, creating the potential for asbestos fibers to become airborne. When this occurs, there is a possibility for these fibers to find their way into a building’s heating, cooling or ventilation system. However, since the air traveling through these channels is often forced, the carcinogens would typically be pushed out of the ducts, rather than pulled into them. When any type of deterioration or damage happens to asbestos-containing lagging adhesive, the system—as well as the area surrounding it—should be inspected by a skilled abatement professional.
Deterioration isn’t the only issue that plagues lagging adhesive. As heating and cooling systems age, parts inevitably need to be updated or the system itself must be replaced. When the lagging adhesive used in the duct work contains asbestos, a serious health hazard is presented. Some states prohibit regular contractors from removing or replacing these systems, requiring professional abatement companies be hired for the task, while other states have no such legislation. Not having any law prohibiting standard contractors from working on asbestos-containing systems is dangerous for both the service provider as well as the occupants of the building. When proper procedures aren’t put in place, there is a tremendously high likelihood that asbestos will be released into the air.
Exposure to asbestos, both prolonged and limited, increases a person’s chances of developing a number of asbestos-related health issues including lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer that affects the areas surrounding the lungs, abdomen and heart. There is currently no cure for mesothelioma, and diagnosis often finds the individual succumbing to the disease within the first two years, due to a long latency periodattributed to this type of cancer. If an individual has come into contact with asbestos, a visit to a local physician is highly recommended.