During the 20th century, asbestos was commonly used throughout the construction industry. It was frequently used in siding for structures. The use of building siding that contained asbestos became popular after World War I when the construction industry came up with a way to mix Portland cement and asbestos to form corrugated sheets of siding. These sheets were also called “cast stone” and “asbestos cement.”
While these stone corrugated sheets were most often used for factories and industrial-type construction, they were once thought to be quite fashionable. They were marketed under brand names such as Ruberoid with the fact that the large sheets could be easily snapped for sizing, that they were easy to drill, and that they were light weight and durable. They were even used as roofing shingles.
But many of these things for which stone corrugated sheets were touted are what makes them so dangerous to health. When they were shaped, cut, sanded, broken, and drilled they released quite a bit of asbestos dust, which was subsequently inhaled by the workers doing the installation of the siding. Years later when these buildings were being remodeled or demolished asbestos dust was again released into the air. The exposure to asbestos dust and fibers has been shown to be one of the only causes of a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma.