Asbestos in Construction Adhesives

Until the end of the 1970s, asbestos-containing products were commonly used. Many manufacturers mixed this carcinogenic mineral in with sealants, mastics and cement because it helped to strengthen the product and make it last longer.

Many dried out adhesives remain in these products, even today in older structures. In most cases, they are not dangerous unless the fibers are disturbed. Once the fibers have been disturbed through renovation work or damage, this toxic mineral can be released into the air where it can be inhaled into the lungs. 

What Happens When Nails and Screws Are Impractical?

When nails and screws are impractical, builders choose to use adhesives instead. In some cases, they would mix in this carcinogenic fiber with natural and synthetic construction adhesives as a way of making it stick together better. The result was a fireproof product that was quite durable. At one time, most believed it as safe and reliable material, but that changed in 1978 when it became clear this product could lead to harmful diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer. The toxic fibers get stuck in your lungs and cause inflammation however, it can take anywhere from 20 to 60 years before disease develops. 

Construction Mastics

These heavy-duty construction adhesives have become known as construction mastics and they take the form of a construction paste. This is eventually mixed in to be applied as a type of cement. Before the end of the 1970s, this adhesive was used in conjunction with asbestos because it improved the product. While this product has not been used in the United States for quite some time, it can be encountered within some older buildings. 

Some of the most common places where they used construction adhesives include:

  • Floors
  • Wall panels
  • Ceilings
  • Interior fixtures
  • Roofs
  • Pipes
  • Air ducts
  • Furnaces and boilers

The earliest cases of this being used go back to 1887, when it was first manufactured as 20 percent asbestos-based fibers. By the middle of the 1980s, 10 million gallons of these adhesives were being used annually. Some of the companies that produced these included Amtico Floors, Pecora, H.B. Fuller, GAF Corporation and American Biltrite. Before they banned it in 1978, you could find these products widely used throughout.