Asbestos was widely used in construction throughout a large part of the 20th century. It is a naturally occurring mineral with natural fire-resistant properties, making it an ideal insulator useful in hundreds of construction applications. One use of asbestos was as a thickening agent in paints, which contained the fiber in small amounts of approximately 10 percent. Paint with asbestos in it added extra insulation and protection from fire for both private homes and commercial buildings. Unfortunately, asbestos is toxic and can cause a number of deadly lung diseases, especially as it ages and its fibers are released.
Although asbestos paint remains safe when remaining in good condition without disruption, if the material is disturbed in any way, the fibers can become airborne, making inhalation or ingestion possible. Because old paint can easily flake and chip, it is important that any surfaces suspected of possessing asbestos-containing paint be observed for signs of deterioration.
One company that produced and sold asbestos-tainted paint was the Kelly-Moore Paint Company. This company purchased Union Carbide’s trademarked form of asbestos, Calidria, which was sold to a variety of other manufacturers between 1963 and 1985. Although Kelly-Moore filed a suit against the producer of this asbestos additive in 2004, a jury cleared Union Carbide Corporation of misleadingly selling its asbestos additive. Kelly-Moore had hoped to collect $1.5 billion from the Dow Chemical Co. subsidiary, which the company believed the numerous disease and death claims filed against them would amount to.
Exposure to asbestos for long periods of time at a concentrated amount is an established cause of lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an aggressive type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, heart and other organs and is almost always a direct result of inhaling asbestos dust and fibers. Unfortunately, asbestos paint’s presence in enclosed environments inside homes allows it to gradually deteriorate and collect in environments that do not allow the air flow needed to expel it. This leads to greater concentrations of the material, which poses increased disease risks.