Asbestos was used in a lot of building materials, but usually it’s associated with insulation, infused textiles, and other softer materials. Today we look at the use of asbestos cement, often referred to as transite. We’ll go over the history of this product, what forms it can take, where it can be found inside the house, and the specific dangers the product can pose if left in place or disturbed during renovation or demolition of a building.
Transite Asbestos Cement
Transite was originally a Johns-Manville brand of asbestos-cement boards and pipes, a Colorado-based brand known for being a global leader in making asbestos products, including pipe insulation, asbestos shingles and roofing materials, and asbestos cement pipes. Eventually, transite became a generic term for fireproof cement products that contained asbestos, among other things. Here are many of the transite products:
- Cement piping
- Cement wallboard
- Siding and roofing
- Gutters and drain piping
- Waste and sewer lines and drain piping
- Landscape edging
- Hard fiber insulation
- Vent and HVAC piping
Why Asbestos was Used in Cement
Asbestos was added to cement for three major reasons: to make the cement have a higher heat tolerance (fireproofing), to improve insulation for hot air or water, and as a fiber reinforcement to make them less permeable and less prone to cracking. Asbestos was chosen because it was readily available and inexpensive, but also because as a silicate it was fairly easy to blend into the concrete.
The Dangers of Asbestos Cement
Whether due to natural wear of the materials or damage during a renovation or demolition, asbestos cement is not safe inside a building.
Contamination of Water and Air
Since transite was used in cement piping for both water (potable, wastewater, and sewer) and air (ventilation and HVAC), both water and air can be contaminated by asbestos if these products start to break down.
Exterior Exposure and Wear
There are many transite products that can be found outside the home, including: roofing, gutters, and drain pipes, as well as siding, and soffit and fascia panels. As these are exposed to the elements and cleaning tools, they can wear and release asbestos into the air.
Renovation and Demolition
Cutting into and removing transite products is the biggest danger for high asbestos exposure for both contractors and property owners. Take care to get the building tested for asbestos products before renovation or demolition to avoid complications.
All these things together mean that large amounts of asbestos dust can be released from buildings during renovation, demolition, or just the passage of time. Many construction products manufactured and installed before the 1980s could contain asbestos. If you’re worried about asbestos in your home or business, or your contractor has discovered the presence of this hazardous building material, we can help. Fiber Control, Inc. are experts in asbestos abatement. Contact us today to learn about your options when it comes to removing asbestos.