For all the harm asbestos has caused workers and homeowners, it filled a specific niche in building construction. Whole brands and companies were built around using asbestos in their products to reach goals of insulation, strength, and fire resistance. When asbestos phased out in the 80s from practically all fields of construction, many manufacturers had to turn to (or create) alternatives that would allow their companies and brands to continue to provide materials that met their needs while also being safe. Today we’ll look over the asbestos substitutes in building construction.
Asbestos Substitutes in Insulation
Fibrous materials still make the best insulators for their insulative properties. Below are the two most popular types. However, both still have health concerns with inhaled fibers (similar to asbestosis), even though both types state their materials are non-carcinogenic.
- Fiberglass: This fiber-reinforced material is made by suspending glass fibers within resin or plastic. Numerous brands exist, and manymeet or exceed the qualities that made asbestos so popular.
- Mineral & Glass Wool: Using mineral (typically slag or ceramics) or glass fibers, the materials are mixed with a binder to form a wool-like consistency, trapping gasses to create better insulation.
Asbestos Substitutes in Cement and Plasters
Asbestos was mixed with cement and plasters (see our blog Is There Asbestos in Your Drywall? for details of asbestos in drywall and drywall plaster) to improve its strength and give it additional properties. Since asbestos use has been halted, many cement brands and companies have switched to incorporating organic fibers such as plant or tree fibers that contain cellulose. Sometimes mineral fibers are used in high-friction materials.
Asbestos Substitutes in Fire Retardants
When it comes to heat and fire retardants, glass and mineral insulations can work, but there are also synthetic fibers that have become popular. An example is PBI (polybenzimidazole) fiber which has a high melting point of 1400 °F and does not ignite. You can find these materials as insulators as well as in textiles for fire departments.
Are you concerned that the materials currently in your home or business are asbestos and looking for alternatives? We can help. Fiber Control, Inc. are experts in asbestos abatement, allowing you to get asbestos safely removed so you can find a replacement. Contact us today to learn about your options when it comes to removing asbestos.