Asbestos Sheets in Construction

Throughout most of the 20th century, construction workers used sheets for siding projects and simple roofing.

At first glance, these projects were cheap to manufacture and install, but the true cost to public health fully emerged in the late 1970s when research suggested that it could be harmful.

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. 

Asbestos-Based Flatsheet

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.

Asbestos-Based Lumber

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.