After being discovered as a mineral in 1876, asbestos quickly became a key ingredient in many products used to build homes. In fact, asbestos can be found in as many as 3,000 household products and products used in home construction.

Why was asbestos used in home-building products and materials?

Asbestos originally became a popular product due to its unique chemical and physical properties. Asbestos’ composition made it less likely to react with other compounds and reduces the conduction of heat, making it fire resistant.

According to the Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center (MAA) the widespread use of asbestos can largely be attributed to the construction industry, which accounted for 70-80% of all asbestos use throughout the 20th century. Between 1930 and 1970, construction companies heavily used asbestos in wall insulation, roofing materials, asbestos cement, and other products. Unlike similar products at the time, asbestos’ durability and weather resistance was unparalleled.

Despite efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban asbestos entirely in the late 1970s, it is still used to this day.

Was my home built with asbestos-containing materials?

With so many San Diego homes and buildings built 1930 and 1970, homeowners and building tenants may be at risk for asbestos exposure.

Some homebuilding products commonly found in homes constructed between 1930 and 1970 include:

Tiles. Flooring, ceiling and roofing tiles were commonly made with asbestos. The adhesive used to lay down flooring tiles has also been a source of exposure.
Cement. Asbestos-containing cement was used in building materials because asbestos fibers provide strength without adding much weight. Its insulating and fire-resistant properties also made asbestos an ideal substance to add to cement.
Textiles. Asbestos was used in the production of cloths and garments for its resistance to heat and corrosive elements. Some of the most common textiles included blankets, firefighter suits and flame-retardant rope.

Despite the EPAs efforts to ban asbestos completely, builders were not required to remove asbestos-containing products from homes and commercial buildings. In fact, a number of products consisting of less than 1% asbestos are still used today and do not require a warning label, “if they will not release asbestos fibers during any reasonably foreseeable use”.

Some popular asbestos-containing products include:

  • Henry’s Wet Patch Roof Cement
  • Acoustical plaster
  • Ceiling panels
  • Ceiling texture (popcorn ceiling)
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Ceiling tile mastic

If you believe your home or building may have been built with asbestos-containing products, you may want to consider having your property tested for asbestos. Only a state-licensed asbestos testing technician can determine whether your home or building used asbestos-containing products in its construction and whether those products pose health risks to its inhabitants.

Rarefied Air Environmental has been providing residential and commercial asbestos testing for homes and buildings in San Diego for nearly a decade. Our experienced and professional technicians can help you determine whether asbestos exists at your property and whether that asbestos is potentially harmful. Contact us today to schedule asbestos testing.