Known as one of the best fire retardants and insulators in the world, asbestos was used in a variety of products, including fire dampers. A fire damper is a part of the ventilation duct system. These dampers were designed to prevent fire from spreading through the duct system into other parts of the structure. Asbestos and asbestos-contaminated materials were used in fire dampers until it was discovered how dangerous the mineral was to humans.
Since these dampers are contained in ventilation duct systems, a damaged fire damper containing asbestos could spread deadly asbestos fibers freely through the vents. The inhalation of these asbestos particles, especially in enclosed office spaces, can cause lung, heart and abdominal damage. One of the most deadly consequences of this damage is mesothelioma. This form of cancer affects membrane tissue in the lungs, heart and stomach. The reason mesothelioma is so deadly is because it often remains undetected until traditional treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy are ineffective.
It is impossible to say that all fire dampers have been refitted to the new safety standards. If you work in conditions where the smallest possibility of asbestos contamination exists, take immediate steps to have your area tested for asbestos contamination. Call in a professional who is experienced in the detection of asbestos particles. It is unfortunate, but some businesses have tried to cut corners even knowing the dangers associated with asbestos exposure. The danger of asbestos-containing fire dampers can be easily overlooked. If a damper appears old or damaged, do not hesitate bringing this matter to someone’s attention, even if it is only to double check the damper’s condition.