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Asbestos characteristics or properties:
This article series describes the physical properties of asbestos including its mechanical, chemical, electrical and related properties both in pure asbestos form and when asbestos is mixed with other materials like cement or rubber. As the author points out, while this is a lenghty article, there is far more detailed information about asbestos properties, chemistry, etc. A separate ASBESTOS BIBLIOGRAPHY gives access to much of that data.
The physical, mechanical, chemical, electrical, and related
properties of asbestos without such added materials as Cement,
rubber, etc., will be reviewed. However, it is important
to appreciate that far more data for these afore-mentioned
items are available. They are reviewed in the chapters listed at the end of this page - chapters which
explain the properties of asbestos when it is combined with
various other materials.
These data are directly related to
the performance of products or end items; they are more
important, inasmuch as more than 95 per cent of the asbestos
used is combined with other materials. Some products
are never identified as containing asbestos even when as
much as fifty per cent of their content is asbestos, e.g.,
asphalt tile, vinyl tile, and plastics.
Basic properties of raw asbestos are interesting and important,
but when the asbestos is combined with other materials,
drastic differences may occur.
Physical and chemical
properties of asbestos (as with many other materials) can be altered; e.g., heat resistance of asbestos
fiber is a very important characteristic; it can produce more
interesting results, however, when it is combined with other
types of materials.
When asbestos fibers are subjected to a temperature
of 1,200°F, their tensile strength values are extremely
high. In comparison, tensile strength values of organic and
inorganic fibers are completely destroyed or melt between
200 and 900°F.
Ultimate tensile strength of chrysotile asbestos fibers is
approximately 42,000 psi after two minutes at 1,2Q0°F ; 32 per cent strength retention occurs.
After one hour at 1,200°F,
tensile strength drops to 2,000 psi. When the fibers are com-
bined with silicone resin to produce structural plastics, the
reinforced plastic can retain 50 per cent of its room temperature
tensile strength or produce a minimum 10,000 psi
after 5 to 10 hr. at 1,200°F.
With phenolic resins, asbestos
products are produced which will provide insulation and
retain strength when subjected to 5,000°F for periods of
minutes (1 to 30 minutes) . See Figure 2.1 in which a rocket
motor part is subjected to a temperature of 5,000°F.
Figure 2.1. Rocket motor aft (asbestos-phenolic insulator) before
and after firing at 5,000°F.
The temperature approximately
1/8 in. from the surface
exposed to 5,000°F will be approximately 200°F after 1/2 to
1 min. of exposure.
When combined with magnesium carbonate
and other similar products, heat insulators can be
produced which will be useful for many years in such applications
as boilers operating at temperatures from 500° to 1,200°F
or 1,800°F. Although asbestos fiber mechanically
breaks down at approximately 1,500°F, it does not completely
disintegrate until 2,770°F. At this temperature, it can
be related to such a ceramic material as magnesium oxide.
When combined with other materials, it provides for interesting
products in different temperature and time environments.
Asbestos is used with such binders as epoxy, furane
and phenolic resins to produce chemical resistant products,
otherwise immediate breakdown of the asbestos would
occur. Typical applications include spinning bobbins for
the manufacture of synthetic fibers, chemical corrosion re
sistant asbestos-cement pipes, and chemical resistant plastic
Asbestos fibers can also be changed chemically to produce
improved or completely different
or paper treated with a 20 per cent, by weight, of aqueous
solution of magnesium chloride, dried, dipped in a 20 per
cent aqueous solution of concentrated ammonium hydroxide,
and dried at 175° F, causes an increase in strength ten times
greater than its original strength. It also produces a 165
per cent increase in dielectric strength.
Reports on the various types of asbestos versus heat and
chemical conditions have originated from various sources.
In the majority of cases, specific data on physical or chemical
properties of asbestos fibers have been obtained for use
in special programs.
The method of conducting tests as well
as conditions of evaluating data must be understood in order
to obtain conclusive statements. In reviewing these data, it
is important to recognize that specific conclusions can sometimes
limit the application of the product.
For example, in the textile field ASTM Grade AAAA has
been reported to have a service temperature as high as
The ASTM Underwriters' Grade specifies service
temperature as high as 450°F. These particular temperature values tend to be meaningless inasmuch as time periods are
not included; therefore, their usefulness is limited.
Basically, asbestos is the only mineral which can be woven
like cotton; it can resist fire, heat, time, weather and many
'acids or, alkalies. When it is used with other materials,
its strong flexible fibers interlock to form .reinforcing webs
within solids, liquids, and semiliquids.
The resulting products
can gain durability and toughness as well as increased
resistance to breakage, abrasion, and wear. The fibrous
structure of an asbestos vein is shown in Figure 2.2 earlier on this page.
* Callinan, T. D. (to General Electric Co.) U.S. Patent 2,451,805
(Oct. 19, 1948).
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 Asbestos, its Industrial Applications, D.V. Roasato, engineering consultant, Newton MA, Reinhold Publishing Co., NY, 1959, Library of Congress Catalog No. 59-12535. We are in process of re-publishing this interesting text. Excerpts & adaptations are found in InspectApedia.com articles on asbestos history, production & visual identification in and on buildings.
 "Asbestos in Plastic Compositions", A.B. Cummins, Modern Plastics [un-dated, pre 1952]
 "Asbestos in Your Home," Spokane County Air Pollution Control Authority, Spokane WA 509-477-4727 www.scapa.org provides a one-page image, a .pdf file drawing of a house warning of some possible sources of asbestos in the home. The sources are not ranked according to actual risk of releasing hazardous levels of airborne asbestos fibers and the list is useful but incomplete.
 The US EPA provides a sample list of asbestos containing products epa.gov/earth1r6/6pd/asbestos/asbmatl.htm
 "Characterization of asbestos exposure among
automotive mechanics servicing and handling
asbestos-containing materials", Gary Scott Dotson, University of South Florida, 1 June 2006, web search 3/9/2012 original source: scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3505&context=etd [copy on file as /hazmat/Automotive_Asbestos_Exposuret.pdf ].
 Asbestos Identification and Testing References
Asbestos Identification, Walter C.McCrone, McCrone Research Institute, Chicago, IL.1987 ISBN 0-904962-11-3. Dr. McCrone literally "wrote the book" on asbestos identification procedures which formed
the basis for current work by asbestos identification laboratories.
Stanton, .F., et al., National Bureau of Standards Special Publication 506: 143-151
Pott, F., Staub-Reinhalf Luft 38, 486-490 (1978) cited by McCrone
 Asbestos in Your Home U.S. EPA, Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
 Asbestos products and their history and use in various building materials such as asphalt and vinyl flooring includes discussion which draws on Asbestos, Its Industrial Applications, D.V. Rosato, engineering consultant, Newton, MA, Reinhold Publishing, 1959 Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 59-12535 (out of print, text and images available at InspectAPedia.com).
 "Handling Asbestos-Containing roofing material - an update", Carl Good, NRCA Associate Executive Director, Professional Roofing, February 1992, p. 38-43
 EPA Guidance for Controlling Asbestos-Containing Materials in buildings, NIAST, National Institute on Abatement Sciences & Technology, [republishing EPA public documents] 1985 ed., Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460 Copy on file as - /hazmat/Asbestos_in_Your_Home_US_EPA.pdf - Asbestos in Your Home - U.S. EPA, Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
Basic Information about Asbestos, US EPA, web search 08/17/2010, original source: http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/help.html
"Handling Asbestos-Containing roofing material - an update", Carl Good, NRCA Associate Executive Director, Professional Roofing, February 1992, p. 38-43
EPA Guidance for Controlling Asbestos-Containing Materials in buildings, NIAST, National Institute on Abatement Sciences & Technology, [republishing EPA public documents] 1985 ed., Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
Copy on file as - /hazmat/Asbestos_in_Your_Home_US_EPA.pdf - Asbestos in Your Home - U.S. EPA, Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
[copy on file as /hazmat/Vermiculite_US_EPA.pdf/ Current Best Practices for Vermiculite Attic Insulation - May 2003, U.S. EPA
[copy on file as] /hazmat/Vermiculite_Health_Canada.pdf] Vermiculite Insulation Containing Amphibole Asbestos - September 2009, Health Canada
Managing Asbestos in Place, How to Develop and Maintain a Building Asbestos Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Program, U.S. EPA, web search 01/20/2011, original source: http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/management_in_place.html
Asbestos Strategies, Lessons Learned about Management and Use of Asbestos: Report of Findings and Recommendations on the Use and Management of Asbestos, 16 May 2003, US EPA, web search 01/20/2011, original source: http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/asbstrategiesrptgetf.pdf
prepared by the: Global Environment & Technology Foundation, 7010 Little River Turnpike, Suite. 460, Annandale VA 20003
Other US EPA Publications on asbestos: web search 01/20/2011, see http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/pubs.html
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
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The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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