Years Produced: 1900s – 1980s
Asbestos-containing adhesive was commonly used to help bond carpet, flooring and ceiling tiles in buildings built prior to the 1980s. It was also used to patch and seal joints on boilers and pipes in U.S. Navy ships. Asbestos was used in these products because it created a strong bond to a variety of surfaces that could withstand extreme heat and even fire.
Asbestos has been used in adhesives since the early 1900s. One of the first products was a fibrous adhesive created by the Philip Carey Manufacturing Company in 1906. Since then, they have been used in a number of industries, often with vinyl flooring and wallpaper applications. One of the most famous brands is Gold Bond. This brand was released in the 1950s by National Gypsum Company and became one of the standard adhesives used in the construction industry.
The majority of liquid non-roofing asbestos adhesives are produced using bagged asbestos that is dumped into a fluffing machine to separate the fibers. Then, resins or solvents are added to the fibers in a batch-mixing tank along with any pigments or fillers. The mixtures are then packaged in metals pails, smaller containers or tubes.
By 1985, there were 51 companies running 66 plants nationwide. About 9.6 million gallons of asbestos non-roofing adhesives, sealants and coatings were produced. During the mid-’80s, the use of asbestos in these products declined because of rising insurance costs and lawsuits associated with asbestos diseases. By the end of 1986, 21 of the 51 companies stopped producing these products.
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|Product||Years Produced||Percent Asbestos|
|Armstrong S-89 Adhesive||1965-1983||N/A|
|Armstrong S-90 Adhesive||1934-1983||N/A|
|Atlas Stove & Furnace Cement||N/A||N/A|
|Carey Fibrous Adhesive||1906-1984||85%|
|Empire Ace Fibrous Adhesives||1959-1984||18% chrysotile|
|J-M Fibrous Adhesive Cement||1887-1981||20% chrysotile|
|Crown Coat Cement||1935-1976||45% chrysotile|
|Gold Bond Laminating Adhesive A||1970-1974||15% chrysotile|
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The adhesive materials used in numerous homes, schools and commercial buildings may have contained between 1 and 25 percent asbestos, depending on the type and the purpose for which it was used. These products can become hazardous when the asbestos fibers are released into the air. This usually only occurs when the adhesives break down over time. Additionally, during renovation, demolition or regular construction, these materials can also be damaged. Asbestos-containing seals may wear down and can flake or peel away.
Though the use of several asbestos products declined in the 1980s because of serious health and safety concerns, the mineral can still be found in some adhesive agents used in homes and commercial buildings today. In Navy ships, cement adhesive was often used to repair boilers, putting Navy veterans at risk. The production process for adhesives created a large amount of dust because of the mixing of raw, loose fiber. Also, while many adhesives are in liquid or paste form, cement adhesives may come in powdered form and are mixed by hand before use. The mixing process also creates dusty conditions.
Construction workers and those who worked in the factories that produced this product are at the highest risk, but other occupations at risk for asbestos exposure from adhesives include:
While many companies have begun using alternatives to asbestos adhesives, their use is not banned in the United States. The only types of adhesive banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are sprayed-on asbestos adhesives containing more than 1 percent asbestos and flooring felt adhesive.
In one lawsuit involving asbestos adhesive cement, a jury in San Francisco awarded Joseph Garza – a U.S. Navy veteran diagnosed with asbestosis – $1,578,994 in damages. Mr. Garza’s wife, Mary, received $400,000 out of that amount for loss of consortium. In addition, the jury awarded Mr. Garza with $10 million in punitive damages because the jury determined that the defendant, Asbestos Corporation, Ltd. acted with malice or oppression.
Mr. Garza served aboard the USS Randall where he was put in charge of the boilers. While lagging the pipes, he used adhesive cement to seal areas where lagging could not be used. Adhesive cement can either be premixed in a bucket or in unmixed powder form in a bag. Mr. Garza mixed the asbestos-contaminated adhesive cement material with water in a bucket.
After he left the Randall, he was assigned to destroyer USS Agerholm where he did the same work with adhesive cement. During the nearly 10 years he served in the Navy he never wore a protective mask and the cement dust frequently covered his clothes and hair.
Many of the manufacturers of asbestos products have filed bankruptcy and set up millions of dollars in asbestos trusts as part of their reorganization to settle asbestos injury claims. Some of these companies include Johns Manville, National Gypsum, Congoleum Corporation and National Gypsum Company.
In some cases, the asbestos adhesives holding floor tiles or linoleum may need to be abated. For most products, chemical solvents or amended water (water mixed with chemicals) can be used to abate asbestos adhesives. Check with the manufacturer about using chemical solvents.
Some chemical solvents are not compatible with new adhesives. In the case of asphaltic or black asbestos tile adhesive, solvents can damage the concrete or wood beneath and leave a residue. Black adhesive should always be tested for asbestos. If it contains asbestos, it should be wetted down and scraped by hand by an asbestos abatement professional wearing protective gear and a HEPA mask.
Never sand or grind adhesives because this can create asbestos dust. Any adhesive that is friable (easily crumbled by hand) or damaged should also be removed by a licensed professional.
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