Adhesives

Adhesives

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.

History

At A Glance

  • Places Used: Flooring, wallpaper, HVAC systems, stoves, boilers and construction materials in houses, schools, commercial buildings and ships
  • Toxicity: Low
  • Asbestos Use Banned: No
  • Friable: No

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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The various types of adhesives known to contain asbestos include:

  • Asphaltic cutback adhesive: This is black in color and is usually found beneath vinyl tiles and flooring. Asbestos was mixed with this product to make it more durable.
  • Cement adhesive: This is also called furnace cement or stove cement and is a type of joint compound and adhesive used in areas exposed to extreme heat. Furnace cement may be used in boilers, stoves, chimneys, kilns, refractories and manufacturing plants.
  • Duct adhesive: Commonly available in the form of tape (similar to duct tape) and sprayable adhesive, this product was often used in HVAC systems to prevent cool or warm air from escaping and affecting the temperature of a climate-controlled home or building.
  • Emulsion adhesive: This is a synthetic form that was used to bond synthetic laminates, like roofing or floor tiles, to wood and timber.
  • Fibrous adhesive: This liquid form was typically applied with a brush or sprayer. Through the years, fibrous forms of asbestos-contaminated adhesive often broke down, which generated dust. The dust created by the crumbling fibrous adhesive often allowed toxic asbestos particles to enter the air, where they presented a serious health hazard to individuals nearby.
  • Lagging adhesive: This water-based product was used in heating and cooling systems to seal ducts and ventilation corridors against the leakage of temperature-treated air.
  • Mastic adhesive: Made from sticky resin of the mastic tree, this type is available in a variety of forms, including liquid and glue. It was commonly used in the construction and heating and air industries.
  • Seals: Seals are used to prevent leaking in roofing materials by joining roofing shingles together. Seals, or packing, protect the roofs of homes and other structures against high temperatures and caustic substances. Roof seals prevent leaking and weather damage and have been used to protect against bleaching, cracking, UV exposure and rain damage.

Several companies manufactured asbestos adhesives, including

Some of the individual adhesive products made by these manufacturers include:

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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Dangers

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:

Occupations at risk for asbestos exposure from adhesives:

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.

Lawsuits

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.

Abating the Product

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.

Brands

Several brands of adhesive contained asbestos; some of these include:

  • 3M Sealers and Wet Adhesives
  • A.P. Green Insulation Adhesive
  • Armstrong
  • Asbestogard Adhesive
  • Atlas
  • Carey Fibrous Adhesive
  • Careytemp Adhesive
  • Chesterton Seal
  • Combustion Engineering Fibrous Adhesive
  • Diesel-Seal
  • Empire Ace
  • Foster
  • Georgia-Pacific Drywall Adhesive
  • Gold Bond
  • H.B. Fuller Adhesives
  • Johns Manville Asbestogard Adhesive
  • Mobil Oil Dum-Dum Masonic Adhesive
  • National Gypsum’s Gold Bond
  • Nico-seal
  • Pecora Asbestos Furnace Cement
  • Sur-seal
  • Uniroyal B.F. Goodrich Adhesives

Additional Resources

  1. Garza v. Asbestos Corp., Ltd. (2008). Retrieved from http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ca-court-of-appeal/1117233.html
  2. ICF Incorporated. (1989). Regulatory impact analysis of controls on asbestos and asbestos products: Non-roofing adhesives, sealants, and coatings.
  3. Society of Cleaning and Restoration Technicians. (2011). The commercial flooring report. Retrieved from http://www.scrt.org/
  4. Minnesota Department of Health. (2012). Asbestos Floor tile removal. Retrieved from http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/asbestos/floortile/index.html
  5. Retropaper. (2012). Pecora Paint Company, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.retropaper.net/PECORAPAINTCOMPANYINC.html
  6. Crosby, J. H. (1990). What Every New Lawyer Needs to Know and have to Work in Asbestos Litigation. Retrieved from http://www.crosbylegal.com/

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