After decades of scientific research linking asbestos exposure to several extremely adverse health conditions, asbestos can still be found in many products. Not only is it found in older, still-circulating items, but it’s also still used in production—or found as a contaminant in materials used in production. In fact, it’s entirely legal for certain produced goods to contain up to 1% of asbestos in the U.S. However, no amount of asbestos exposure is good exposure. The best way to protect yourself is to be informed of which items may be putting you at higher risk.
Where is Asbestos Still Used & Why?
Historically, asbestos was popular because it was abundant, inexpensive, and durable. However, it was also highly valued for its resistance to both heat and chemical reactions.
Vehicle parts have to withstand frequent exposure to heat, fire, and friction, which is why asbestos is still commonly used in their production.
Here are a few automotive items in which asbestos may still be found:
- Brakes, including brake linings, brake pads, and brake shoes
- Clutch linings and clutch facings
- Transmission plates
- Drum brakes
- Disc brakes
Fireproofing & Insulation
Since asbestos is known for its durability and resistance to heat, it can often be found in fireproofing and insulating products. While asbestos may not be prevalent in most public-facing heat-resistant products, it’s important to note that it’s still used in occupational gear and clothing.
Here are a few products that may contain asbestos:
- Heat-resistant gloves
- Building insulation
- Asbestos blankets
- Asbestos curtains
- Asbestos boards
- Asbestos cloth
- Pipe coatings
Many older home appliances, and some newer, contain asbestos. However, it will most likely only be found in appliances that require heat resistance or strong insulation to operate safely within the home.
Some examples include:
- Gas range wicking
- Clothes dryers
- Coffee pots
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, which means that it can sometimes appear in other naturally occurring minerals. Because of this, some consumer products may have trace amounts of asbestos. Other consumer goods may contain asbestos for the same reasons as many other products do—because asbestos is durable and heat-resistant.
Below is a list of consumer goods that may contain asbestos:
- Ironing board covers
- Children’s makeup
- Cigarette filters
- Talcum powder
- Bowling balls
- Potting soil
- Fake snow
- Oven mitts
Industrial & Commercial Products
Professional-grade products need to be durable, cost-effective, and resistant to extreme temperatures. This is why asbestos was and still is a common ingredient in many industrial and commercial products.
- Electrical components
- Duct connectors
- Cement sheets
- Lab equipment
- Vinyl products
Safety & Regulations For Use of Asbestos in Production
In 1989, a partial ban on asbestos was initially passed but was later mostly overturned. As a result, a conclusive ban on asbestos has yet to be passed within the U.S. However, several federal and state-level regulations have been put into place in an attempt to reduce asbestos exposure. In mid-2019, the EPA passed the Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) after they revisited previous asbestos legislation. SNUR mandated that any products produced using asbestos must be evaluated by the EPA before being reintroduced to the market for new uses. This was intended to give the EPA time to determine whether the new way of use would pose a risk to public health and safety and to instate alterations or halt productions if so.
Items Permanently Banned
Several asbestos products have been permanently banned from production and circulation under the Clean Air Act, the Consumer Product Safety Act, and several regulations jointly enacted by the U.S. FDA and the U.S. EPA. These items include:
- Asbestos paper products, including corrugated, commercial, and specialty paper
- Spray-on coatings containing more than 1% asbestos
- Asbestos filters for pharmaceutical manufacturing
- Friable asbestos pipe and block insulation
- Asbestos fireplace decorations
- Asbestos wall compound
- Asbestos flooring felt
Even with such bans and regulations in place, it is essential to remain vigilant about which products you introduce into your life.
Your Options Following Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos exposure can result in life-threatening conditions up to decades later. If you or a loved one has experienced health problems related to asbestos exposure, you may be entitled to compensation. Talk with one of our asbestos litigation experts today to find out how the team at Cooney & Conway can help.