The History of Asbestos in Hardie Planks

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Asbestos is a natural mineral that is heat resistant, flexible and strong. Because of these and other properties, asbestos was used for many years in various industrial products, including cement siding. Hardiplank, also known as Hardie Plank, is a trade name for cement siding manufactured by James Hardie Industries.

Bonded Asbestos

  • Materials that contain asbestos are either bonded or friable. Cement products, such as Hardiplank, contain bonded asbestos. This means they are mixed with a binder like calcium silicate. In this state, it's less likely that the materials will release asbestos fiber into the air of its own accord. Materials containing bonded asbestos do not pose as much of a health-risk as products that contain friable asbestos used in the past. Friable asbestos crumbles easily, and is readily released into the air.

Health Risks

  • Inhaling asbestos has been linked to various respiratory disorders. People who breathe in asbestos fibers are at risk of developing lung cancer, asbestiosis and mesothelioma. While the bonded nature of the asbestos in cement siding poses less of a health risk, it can still be released by cutting, sawing or breaking the product.

Banning

  • In 1981, the manufacturers of Hardiplank put an end to the use of asbestos in their product. Today, the use of asbestos is banned in many countries. In most fiber-cement products produced since 1981, the asbestos has been replaced with cellulose fibers, which do not pose a health risk.

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  • Photo Credit x - ray image by Sandor Kacso from Fotolia.com
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