Asbestos Insulation

One of the most prevalent exposures to asbestos during the 19th century is exposure to insulation containing asbestos.

Today, it should be noted that older homes and businesses may still have asbestos in insulation and this should be taken with caution as these fibers can be easily disturbed leading to inhalation. 

Once Thought Perfect

Before the link between asbestos and cancer development was established, asbestos was felt to be the “perfect” substance. It was for this reason that it was so commonly used. In its soft, cotton-like form, it is resistant to heat. However, once the link between asbestos exposure and cancer development came to light, the dangers of working with these materials became more clear. 

The Cover-Up

While there is literature dating back to as early as the 1930s suggesting the dangers of asbestos exposure, big corporations have been alleged to have covered up the information. It was not until 1978 that the United States Government completely banned this toxic material in all public areas. 

Why Did People Favor This Mineral

Outside of some of the heat-resistant and chemical-resistant properties, there are other reasons that asbestos was used. One principal reason is that this was an inexpensive material which could come from mines here in North America. Some of the states where asbestos was mined for making insulation included:

  • Montana
  • California
  • New Jersey
  • Vermont
  • South Carolina
  • Georgia
  • Pennsylvania
  • Nevada

Until the time that the use of asbestos was banned, essentially every company making insulation used it. As a result, many workers were exposed to this substance, a high proportion of which eventually developed serious health problems as a result. This toxic insulation was often used in basements, ceilings, walls, pipes, boilers, and furnaces.