Home Construction and Asbestos
Asbestos was once considered a safe, durable and cost-effective building product. It seemed the ideal construction material. Asbestos had excellent thermal transfer properties making it a superior insulation material.
It was fire resistant, non-corrosive and didn’t conduct electricity. And asbestos was lightweight, readily available and cheap to buy. It seemed there was no fault with asbestos.
From the 1920’s to the mid-1980s, American homebuilders installed tons of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) in millions of single and multi-family residences.
Home construction flourished through various boom cycles, and asbestos demand soared. This request was exceptionally high in the post-World War II period of the 50s and 60s. Asbestos showed up in practically every American-made building material.
This monstrous appetite for asbestos materials came back to haunt the home construction industry. The dangers of long-term asbestos exposure became known back in the 1930s, but warnings went unheeded. Much of this blame rests on unscrupulous ACM producers and distributors who placed profits before people.
By the 80s, the cat was out of the asbestos bag. Thanks to regulatory efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), red flags were waved at home constructors installing asbestos materials.
Asbestos use stopped or became severely curtailed. Unfortunately for millions of home builders and owners, America’s twentieth-century houses were asbestos death traps.