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Asbestos Pipe Health Risks and Risk Factors
Asbestos-cement pipes (AC), also known as transite pipes, were used across the United States throughout the 1900s. Many estimate about 18 percent of the United States and Canada’s water distribution pipes are transite. These AC pipes were cheaper, lightweight, and seemed to withstand deterioration better than standard piping. However, transite pipes can contain 20 percent asbestos.
In the early 1980s, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a complete ban on all asbestos-related products, quickly slowing the manufacturing and installation of AC pipes. Although these asbestos-lined pipes were discontinued, existing AC pipes were not replaced. Today, transite pipes account for over 600,000 miles of the United States and Canada’s water distribution pipes.
Exposure to asbestos through contaminated water can increase the likelihood of cancers such as mesothelioma and lung cancer as well as other serious conditions. Asbestos can affect anyone – women, men, old and young. Uncover the details of asbestos-cement pipes and their threats to you and your loved ones.
Types of Asbestos Used in Pipes
The U.S. used asbestos in pipes due to its low weight, resistance to corrosion, and affordability. However, over time, scientists discovered people who consume water with high levels of asbestos over time have an increased risk of illness. Asbestos was used in certain water pipes such as transite sewer pipes and cement culverts. These were typically wrapped in chrysotile or amphibole asbestos.
Chrysotile asbestos is the most commonly utilized form of asbestos as it has excellent heat-resistant properties and flexible fibers. These fibers are part of the serpentine mineral family as the fiber’s structure is curly and layered. Chrysotile asbestos is often used in asphalt, brake linings, cement, plastics, rubber, and many other products. Used in piping, these fibers can negatively impact those that ingest them.
Amphibole asbestos is the classifying family name for five types of asbestos: actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, and tremolite asbestos. These varieties have chain-like structures that are easily inhaled by those exposed. Amphibole asbestos can be found in consumer products and materials such as cement, tiles, and insulation. Although commonly used, this form of asbestos can cause numerous health conditions.
Can Asbestos Pipes Corrode?
Pipes corrode over time, but asbestos cement water pipe’s life expectancy is dependent on their location. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) released a study stating that the estimated average lifespan of an AC pipe is 65-105 years. Typical water pipe failures often begin with a small leak and gradually break, whereas asbestos-cement pipeage devastatingly fail without warning. AC pipe break rates continue to dramatically increase as the pipes corrode over time.
Transite pipes can become dangerous over time as they slowly corrode from internal and external water leaching. This leaching reduces the effectiveness of the pipes’ cross-section, resulting in softening and the loss of mechanical strength. As the pipes continue to age, pipe failures increase.
How Do I Know If My Pipes Have Asbestos?
Homes built after the 1980s likely do not have asbestos in their pipes, however, if built before then, there may be asbestos in your home’s pipes. Older pipes no longer have insulation wrapping covering the pipeline. Instead, it typically looks like grey or white remnant of wrappings around the fittings.
There are several at-home tests to check for asbestos in your water lines. If you suspect that your pipelines have asbestos, you should contact a professional to test an asbestos sample. It is essential to not disturb the asbestos-containing materials as improper removal may increase exposure risk. If airborne, asbestos can enter the airways, leading to the development of serious illnesses. If asbestos is ingested through your diet, it can enter the abdomen and lead to the development of conditions such as peritoneal mesothelioma.
Asbestos Pipes and Water Contamination Compensation
If you suspect that your AC pipes have asbestos or that you have ingested asbestos through your drinking water, you may be entitled to compensation. Mesothelioma Hub has the knowledge and legal expertise to properly file a claim and award your compensation. With our wide reach, we can also connect you with the most experienced mesothelioma medical centers for excellent treatment. Contact our team today to file an asbestos claim and receive reparations for your condition.
Madeline works for the patient advocate team and writes about asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. She is passionate about helping families in the mesothelioma community.