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Commonly Used Asbestos Products

Beginning in the early 1900s through the 1980s, asbestos was commonly used in more than 3,000 products, from manufacturing to construction work. Although today many countries have severely curtailed or even outlawed asbestos use, it is still widely used throughout the United States.

Asbestos was coveted for its heat- and fire-resistant properties, but by the early 1980s -- after a definite link to mesothelioma -- the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule. It was later overturned in federal court, allowing consumer products to still contain asbestos. The EPA does not track the manufacturing, distribution or processing of asbestos products in the U.S. The only state to outlaw asbestos in any way is Washington. In 2014, the state will ban asbestos in automobile brakes.

Products Used In The Past

Asbestos is typically characterized by its color. There’s white asbestos (Chrysotile), brown asbestos (Amosite) and blue asbestos (Crocidolite). White asbestos is the most commonly used type of asbestos, while brown is mostly used in buildings and blue is mostly used in very high heat applications.

For years, asbestos was widely used in variety of products. These asbestos-containing products have since been banned:

  • Fireplace logs
  • Hair Dryers
  • Spray-on decorations
  • Spray-on surfacing
  • Corrugated paper
  • Commercial and specialty paper
  • Wet-applied or pre-formed asbestos pipe insulation

Products Still In Use

At the same time, there are still scores of products that contain asbestos. These are from one of two sources: materials that were built before 1980 and products that are legally made and distributed in the U.S. with asbestos. Among the largest in the latter category are automotive products. Brake linings, pads and clutch plates are among the main asbestos-laden products made in the U.S.

Other products, as well, contain asbestos:

  • Adhesives, glues, caulking and putties
  • Appliance parts
  • Attic insulation
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Clothing, including fire-protection products
  • Electrical products, including insulating cloth and electrical breakers
  • Heating and Cooling system products, including boiler insulation and gaskets
  • Elevator equipment
  • Flooring tiles
  • Garden products
  • Laboratory equipment, such as laboratory hoods and tables.
  • Roofing materials

Asbestos Use Around the World

By comparison, other countries have partially or completely banned asbestos use:

  • Australia
  • Japan
  • Turkey
  • Korea
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore

At the same time, other countries widely accept asbestos use:

  • Brazil
  • China
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Russia
  • Mexico
  • Canada


  1. Morris, Jim. “Exporting an epidemic.” The Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved from
  2. United States Environmental Protection Agency. U.S. Federal Ban on Asbestos. Retrieved from
  3. Minnesota Department of Health. Asbestos. Retrieve from
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