Asbestos Sheets in Construction
Throughout most of the 20th century, construction workers used sheets for siding projects and simple roofing.
Construction sheets offer greater durability than drywall, while being much easier to work with than concrete.
A Changing World
While these products incorporated asbestos in the past, they now incorporate cellulose in the cement sheets. This is a substance that can be found in plants and is a shift from the previous 80 years. Sheets using asbestos were first produced in in 1907 and continued until 1980.
What is This Toxic Mineral
Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance that can be mined. It occurs naturally next to other ores like talc, mafic rocks, serpentinites and altered ultramafic rocks. Manufacturers would mine this mineral and fluff it into a wooly texture. Then these fibers would be mixed in with cement to strengthen the cement while making it fireproof. Today, the practice has been banned in light of the highly toxic nature of the mineral when mixed. While these products are no longer manufactured in the United States, using asbestos remains a popular choice in developing countries like India and China.
Asbestos-Based Corrugated Sheets
There are three main types of construction sheets. The first is the corrugated sheet which was first created as an alternative to corrugated metal panels. Metal does not offer insulation and rusts over time so corrugated sheets provided a practical alternative for roofing and siding.
A fibrous type of cement that resists water better than drywall became popular for the interior of both businesses and homes. It can also be used for flooring.
While this is referred to as lumber, manufacturers attempted to market this as a superior choice. Unlike wood, this would not catch fire easily and is electrically non-conductive.
Of note, sheets are rarely harmful unless asbestos fibers are released into the air. In the even that they do, this can lead to the development of mesothelioma.