Cement & Asbestos
While cement and asbestos were used separately for many years, the two substances were first combined in the early 1900s. The asbestos-cement combination was praised for its fire-resistance, durability, and low cost. In addition, this innovative new cement mixture was easy to form and install. Although the exact composition varied from manufacturer to manufacturer, asbestos content in asbestos cement ranged anywhere from 10% to 75%.
In the early days, asbestos cement was often marketed as an agent for repairing roofs. In fact, asbestos cement manufacturing companies guaranteed that it would stop all leaks. Later, it was used as synthetic roof and wall shingles, corrugated wall and roof panels, flat millboard, and decorative wall and ceiling moldings. Additionally, asbestos cement was used in manufactured products, including:
- water pipes
- ceramic bathroom tiles
- facings of acoustical materials,
- electrical switchboard panels
- laboratory tabletops
Through the 1950s, early asbestos cement product manufacturers included:
- H.W. Johns Manufacturing (later Johns-Manville)
- Keasbey & Mattison Company,
- Baltimore Roofing & Asbestos Manufacturing Company, Inc.
- Philip Carey Manufacturing Company
- Flintkote Company
Although these and other asbestos cement companies were aware of the dangers associated with asbestos exposure, they chose to use asbestos in their products anyway. In fact, many cement companies kept their knowledge about asbestos a secret, allowing their employees to work around asbestos containing products without knowledge of the risks or adequate protection.
Cement companies continued to use asbestos until the late 1970s when asbestos risks became widely publicized. For many years, those who worked with asbestos-cement products were exposed to asbestos dust on a regular basis. The acts of cutting, grinding, sawing, sanding, or drilling these products caused asbestos fibers to be released into the air, and with no protective gear, workers inhaled the fibers. Because asbestos fibers remain in the body permanently, many of these workers developed serious diseases, such as mesothelioma, decades after their exposure to asbestos.
If you or a family member were diagnosed with a serious illness after being exposed to asbestos cement, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.