Products and Materials Containing Asbestos 

Companies no longer manufacture asbestos products in the U.S., but they do import them from other countries. Imported products, such as aftermarket brakes and linings, oilfield brake blocks, industrial gaskets and some building materials, may contain asbestos today. 

Talc products can also become contaminated with asbestos. Products such as baby powder, children’s makeup kits and toys, as well as personal hygiene products and cosmetics have all tested positive for asbestos in recent years.

Common Asbestos-Containing Products

Automotive Parts

Many friction vehicle parts, including brake pads, clutches and gaskets, contained asbestos. You may also find it in hood liners and valves.

Cement

Asbestos fibers provided lightweight strength to cement. It also added insulating and fire-resistant properties.

Johnson's Baby Powder bottles
Children’s Products

Testing has identified asbestos-contaminated talc in many children’s products, including some baby powder, crayons, makeup kits and toys, such as detective kits.

Home goods product containing asbestos
Home Goods

Hairdryers, curling irons, ironing boards and heaters often used asbestos for its heat resistance.

Kitchen product containing asbestos
Kitchen Products

Baking mats, oven mitts and appliances, such as coffee makers, ovens and toasters, often incorporated asbestos.

Textiles incorporating asbestos
Textiles

Asbestos added heat- and corrosion-resistance to fabrics and garments. Some of the most common textiles incorporating asbestos included blankets, firefighter gear and rope.

Asbestos was commonly used in tiles
Tiles

Many ceiling, flooring and roofing tiles and their adhesives contained asbestos.

Asbestos was widely used in home goods, including kitchen appliances, hair dryers, heat-resistant fabrics and paper goods until the late 1970s. It was also commonly used in home, school and office building materials in flooring, roofing, insulation and plumbing. As older asbestos products in homes and buildings age or are disturbed in renovations, fibers can become airborne and pose a serious risk of asbestos exposure.

Chemical refining, construction, manufacturing and power generation from the late 1800s through the 1980s heavily used asbestos. Some older products are still in use today. While regulations in the 1970s limited its use, eventually phasing out production in the U.S., the chlor-alkali industry has continued to import raw chrysotile asbestos to make diaphragms for chlorine production. 

Key Facts About Asbestos Products
  • Legacy asbestos building materials include insulation, floor tiles, cement and roofing shingles.
  • Automotive products, such as brakes, clutches, gaskets and transmission plates, widely used asbestos.
  • Children’s products that have tested positive for asbestos-contaminated talc include makeup kits, crayons and baby powder.
  • Common asbestos home goods included appliances, such as ovens, hairdryers and toasters, which are no longer made with asbestos.

Common Industrial and Commercial Asbestos-Containing Products

Manufacturers used asbestos in a wide range of construction materials, including cement products, ceiling and floor tiles and roofing shingles. Some coatings, friction products, gaskets and heat-resistant fabrics also contained asbestos.  

Construction workers experienced asbestos exposure when building and renovating homes when handling pipes, insulation, electrical panels and other equipment. Brakes and clutches are common sources of exposure for auto mechanics.

Industrial and Commercial Asbestos Products

Most commercial and industrial occupational asbestos exposure sources involved the construction and automotive industries. However, there are also some more surprising sources. For example, pizza ovens exposed workers to asbestos during their manufacture, operation and repair. 

The chlor-alkali industry uses raw asbestos to manufacture diaphragm filters. As the U.S. Geological Survey reported, the industry imported 224 tons of raw chrysotile asbestos in 2022 and consumed 150 tons in 2023. In March 2024, the Biden-Harris administration finalized regulations to ban chrysotile asbestos over the next 12 years. 

Common Home and Consumer Asbestos-Containing Products

Many home products used before 1980 contain asbestos, including insulation, spackling compounds, paint and some appliances. Popcorn ceilings installed before that date are a common source of exposure. Some paint products contained asbestos, such as those from now-closed Kelly-Moore Paints

Homeowners performing DIY repairs on older homes are at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers and dust released from disturbed building materials. DIYers performing floor and insulation repairs before 1990 faced a particularly high exposure risk. Aftermarket brake pads and clutch linings pose a risk of asbestos exposure during at-home auto repairs.

Home and Consumer Asbestos Products
  • Appliances
  • Cigarette filters
  • Potholders
  • Ashtray coasters
  • Wicking for gas ranges
  • Fake snow
  • Hair dryers
  • Makeup
  • Talcum powder
  • Zonolite insulation

Contaminated talc products can result in exposure for cosmetics consumers. Testing has also found asbestos in children’s makeup and some toys, including clay, crayons and a fingerprint kit. 

If you’re buying a house built before the 1980s, hire professionals to inspect for any asbestos. If those materials become damaged, asbestos can be released, exposing your family to toxic fibers that can cause diseases many years later.

Sean Marchese

What Is Asbestos Used For?

Asbestos is still used today in products such as gaskets and brake pads for its friction control. While most uses of asbestos have been phased out today, it was a very popular additive in many textiles and building products to increase their strength and fire resistance. 

The widespread use of asbestos in fireproofing and insulation materials made it part of the military’s shipbuilding boom in the 20th century. This was a common source of asbestos exposure for veterans.

Why Asbestos Was Used
  • Abundant: Asbestos occurs naturally in mineral deposits around the world.
  • Durable: Asbestos is resistant to heat, electricity and chemical corrosion.
  • Fibrous: Asbestos ore pulls apart with a wooly consistency that works like other types of fiber.

While asbestos has useful qualities, it’s also highly carcinogenic. The body cannot effectively break down or expel all inhaled microscopic asbestos fibers. Over time, these fibers can cause chronic inflammation, scar tissue and cancer. 

The 1970s saw an increase in lawsuits holding asbestos manufacturers liable for health complications from exposure. Many workers who developed mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer sued for medical costs and lost wages. 

Are Asbestos-Containing Products Banned?

A March 2024 ban on chrysotile asbestos marks the end of U.S. importation and production of products containing this type of asbestos. Companies have 12 years to comply with the new ban, during which time they can still use, manufacture and import chrysotile asbestos. 

It’s a step in the right direction. They need to ban all forms of asbestos. The government can save more lives than I can if they just do the right thing.

Regulations also include the Clean Air Act and the Consumer Product Safety Act that ban several types of asbestos products. Regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration monitor and restrict asbestos use in consumer products. 

Common Questions About Asbestos Products

Where are asbestos products commonly found?

Common sources of asbestos in homes include cement, roof shingles and floor tiles. Examples of products containing asbestos in schools include ceiling tiles, wallboard and HVAC ductwork.

Is asbestos still used in products?

Some asbestos-containing products, such as brake pads and gaskets, are still sold in the United States. Products containing less than 1% asbestos don’t require consumer warnings.

What products contain asbestos?

Common sources of asbestos in home goods are fabric and appliances, including stoves, dryers and coffee pots. Contaminated talc can contribute to exposure, with reports of asbestos in makeup and toys including crayons and amateur crime lab kits.

What are the health risks if I have asbestos in my home or building?

Inhaling asbestos fibers can lead to asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Common symptoms of these conditions, such as coughing and shortness of breath, typically take decades to appear after prolonged exposure.

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