Asbestos became integral to commercial product manufacturing in the early 1800s. Asbestos use peaked from the early 1900s to the late 1970s. Because of its natural fireproofing and insulating properties, in addition to it being inexpensive, lightweight, durable, flexible and effective, asbestos was used in thousands of industrial uses and products.
Exposure to asbestos insulation — as an installer, remover or end user of the area — is responsible for more asbestos exposure occurrences than any other asbestos-containing material.
Although many US companies began discontinuing asbestos in the late 1970s, tens of thousands of people were exposed to asbestos in some capacity. There is no safe level of exposure. Nearly all those with a history of asbestos exposure history are at risk for serious complications.
Products today made with asbestos must be made up of less than 1 percent of asbestos. Products today still made with asbestos include automobile parts (e.g. brake pads, clutches), construction material (e.g. roofing material, vinyl tile, cement piping, corrugated sheeting, insulation) and some potting soils.
Asbestos was banned for home construction in 1990, but many homes built before then may still contain asbestos. In homes built before 1975, asbestos was commonly used as thermal insulation in many areas of the house, including basements, floors, walls, attics, roofs and around pipes.
Although some products are still made with limited amounts of asbestos, the regulations that control asbestos removal from older buildings are very strict.