Early in the 20th century companies involved in construction began to take advantage of the usefulness of mixing asbestos with certain building materials. It was long-lasting, resistant to fire, water, and corrosion as well as being lightweight. The combination of asbestos and cement produced a substance that was easy to mold and resembled a variety of different surfaces.
Cement siding was sometimes used instead of wood shingles. It was made by producing large sheets of asbestos cement and cutting them into different sizes. They were then drilled holes for easy installation. Since the asbestos cement was so easy to mold, it was produced in several styles. It was not only used on homes but also for large construction projects since the sheets of cement siding could also be cut into large sizes for application to large areas.
This type of siding was one of the most popular for about 60 years until asbestos was restricted in the 1970s because of its dangers and ability to cause serious illnesses like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestos. Asbestos cement siding is not considered to be dangerous when it is not damaged. But if it does get damaged or is sanded or cut it can release the deadly fibers into the air where they can be inhaled or swallowed.