Asbestos in Vinyl Products

Monday October 26, 2009
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The use of asbestos in vinyl products was the norm from the 40s to the 70s, before the hazards of asbestos became known. Asbestos in vinyl was used in vinyl sheet flooring, vinyl tiles and even vinyl wallpaper. Asbestos strengthened the vinyl product increasing its resistance to humidity and more resistant to scratch and scuff marks. Vinyl, containing asbestos, was commonly used in schools, residences, theatres, offices and virtually any construction.

At the end of the 70s it became known that asbestos was associated with, and the cause of several potentially fatal pulmonary and respiratory disorders. Among these was a disease called asbestiosis, mesothelioma and even lung cancer. At this stage the federal government stepped in to restrict the use of asbestos in vinyl products, especially in schools and residences. However the issue of existing vinyl–asbestos in floor tiles, flooring and wallpaper was not addressed.

Asbestos comprises of micro fibers 1/700th the size of a human hair. In a loose condition these fibers are able to float freely without being noticed, because of which they are easily inhaled while breathing. These fibers embed themselves in the lungs from where they travel to other organs which they slowly attack.

Mesothelioma is one such incurable disease that has affected thousands of workers exposed to such products particularly installers of vinyl asbestos flooring in whichever form and wallpaper. Unfortunately mesothelioma could remain dormant, and it could be decades before the signs and symptoms become apparent. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that affects the lungs, chest and abdominal cavity. This disease is difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms are similar to lung cancer.

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