Whether you worked for a company that manufactured housing insulation or you helped install it in or remove it from buildings, you may have had workplace exposure to asbestos years ago. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that most people know has fire retardant. That is exactly why many industries used asbestos in the creation of products.
Insulation for buildings is one of many products that could contain asbestos. Not all home insulation includes asbestos. Modern insulation likely does not contain this dangerous mineral. However, if you worked with insulation made years ago, you could be at risk of developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related medical conditions, like lung cancer.
What kinds of insulation might contain asbestos?
There are multiple different forms of insulation, and many of them contain no asbestos at all. Fiberglass insulation, for example, is a loose, fluffy and shiny form of insulation that can cause respiratory irritation but does not contain asbestos. Rockwool insulation looks like gray, brown or off-white cotton and does not contain asbestos. The same is true of cellulose insulation made of recycled paper.
However, vermiculite or loose-fill insulation historically often included asbestos. It looks like pebbles and comes from minerals — some of which may have asbestos contamination. Those working with insulation prior to 1990 may be at higher risk for asbestos exposure compared with modern workers, as is true of those who remove or replace insulation in older homes.
Workers exposed to asbestos who were not given proper safety equipment beforehand may have grounds to make a claim against their former employer for any medical consequences that result.