It’s a word many buyers and homeowners hear quite often, but what exactly is Asbestos and why is it such a danger to us?
Asbestos is a fibrous silicate material that naturally occurs which was used in a variety of products in the 20th century, and still today. The most common items were insulation, floor tile, roofing, paint, boilers and piping. It was one of the most common types of insulation in homes built between the 1930’s and 1950’s along with tile floors between 1920’s and 1960’s. Because asbestos is naturally so resistant to high-heat and a great electrical insulator, it was a popular choice for so many products used within the home.
The dangers of the product were first noted nearly 100 years before its ban in the 1970’s by an Austrian doctor who diagnosed one of his patient’s lung issues as being derived from the inhalation of asbestos at his workplace. This deduction was made upon the examination of similar health issues occurring in workers of similar conditions since the 1830’s.
However, it wouldn’t be until the 1960’s when Dr. Irving Selikoff of Mt. Sinai School of medicine in New York City examined the correlation further. He noted the alarming rate at which workers within asbestos factories were being diagnosed with, and subsequently dying from, lung cancer and other pulmonary health conditions. As the evidence became irrefutable that something was indeed very wrong with so many premature deaths among the workers, regulations were put into place for safer conditions.
Remarkably, despite the danger, asbestos still remains legal within the United States even today. Common items such as pipes, car parts, vinyl flooring, roofing felt and many more are still manufactured with the material.