Most advances were excellent breakthroughs for the steel industry. Unfortunately, introducing one material in steel mills proved highly dangerous and that was asbestos.
Steel mills were hot and dirty environments. Smelting raw ore into finished steel products required converting energy into high heat. Naturally, heat in steel mills needed controlling.
Today, asbestos is known to cause life-threatening and incurable diseases like mesothelioma.
Steel mills used asbestos materials from the 1920s until the 1980s. Every steel mill in America utilized asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). Asbestos was an excellent insulator as it was thermally inert. It didn’t transfer heat well, so high-temperature areas used it extensively.
ACMs were fire-resistant. Being stone-based, asbestos fibers are non-combustible. Asbestos fibers are pliable and easy to work with by blending asbestos fibers into other steel making products.
Asbestos was also non-corrosive and non-conductive. ACMs wouldn’t rust or conduct electricity. Asbestos was widely available, affordable and inert when added to steel products. This made them more durable.