When Did They Stop Using Asbestos in Home Construction?

February 18, 2024

Asbestos was used for much of the 20th century in building materials to make them fire and heat-resistant and improve their durability. Unfortunately, asbestos is also a harmful substance that can cause lung diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Asbestos is a natural mineral with unique fire-resistant and soundproofing properties that made it popular in home construction until the 1970s, when researchers began reporting higher rates of lung disease among workers who handled asbestos on a regular basis. The first bans against asbestos came in the 1980s, with countries around the world putting in place outright bans while the United States gradually phased out some uses of the material.

Many older homes still have asbestos in their insulation and other building materials, including acoustic ceiling tiles, cement pipe, siding shingles and floor tile. It’s also found in textured paints and drywall. Some brands of electric hair dryers and some talc products contain asbestos, but they aren’t likely to release the tiny fibers into the air unless the products are disturbed or broken.

In the US, most manufacturers stopped using asbestos in construction by the late 1980s, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set up regulations to require schools to inspect for and remove dangerous asbestos. The EPA also requires manufacturers to provide the agency with information about asbestos-containing products they produced during specific time periods, such as years of manufacture, types of use and employee data. The agency is collecting this information to help prevent asbestos exposure in schools that may be affecting children’s health.

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