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Asbestos electrical insulation Q&A:
FAQs about the history, manufacture, visual identification: how to recognize asbestos-based or asbestos containing electrical insulation materials in products & buildings - a visual guide to identifying asbestos in buildings.
Page top photograph: asbestos insulation on electrical wiring in a theater.
This articles series about the manufacture & use of asbestos-containing products includes detailed information on the production methods, asbestos content, and the identity and use of asbestos-containing materials. Page top photo shows asbestos used in an electrical motor.
by (mod) -
exposure risks by removing 30-40 feet of asbestos-insulated wire
If the wire insulation was not friable (crumbles to dust if squashed between thumb and finger) and you didn't chop, sand, grind, saw, or otherwise make a dusty mess, probably the asbestos exposure was below the limits of detection.
What kind of exposure risks would I have made by removing 30-40 feet of wire that, after the fact my buddy said it was asbestos insulted
by (mod) -
asbestos used to insulate electric cookers in the UK
On 2017-07-03 by Will
Was asbestos used to insulate electric cookers in the UK ? I have one that dates form about 1988 and was wondering whether the oven was insulated. It is a Belling.
On 2017-02-11 by (mod) -
white powdery substance inside of wire insulation
Possibly there is asbestos, Lindsay, particularly if the wire was used in an application subject to heat, such as theatre wiring or in an appliance. I would not spend on testing the material unless there is some justification.
Do use our page bottom CONTACT link to send me some sharp photos of the wire and of any markings on it, and I may be able to comment further. Also search InspectApedia.com for OLD ELECTRICAL WIRING TYPES to see more examples.
On 2017-02-11 v
by Lindsay Neale
I have some old fashioned copper electrical wire from a retired 90yr old electrician.
When i cut it, there Is a white powdery substance inside.
Do you think this could be asbestos? I can send a sample.
On 2016-08-27 by (mod) -
1940 and 1950 welders that contain asbestos
Seems likely; asbestos may have been used in insulating components.
are there 1940 and 1950 welders that contain asbestos
by (mod) -
asbestos hazard from L733 labelled material?
733 is an oil heater standard;
Stay safe. You're more likely to be hurt falling off of a ladder.
Thanks for your help. It could have been L733 but not sure. The number continued but the rest was cut off. It was an old underwriters laboratory sticker that said armored cable on it, etc. If the dust isn't a major problem I will go on with the project. Thanks for your time.
On 2016-06-24 by (mod) -
I can't tell from just photos if that fabric insulation contains asbestos or not; usually asbestos was used on special-application high-heat -exposure wires such as in electrical appliances such as toasters and range tops, and in theatre wiring; I haven't found records of its use in general-purpose electrical wiring: in sum it's possible but we have no confirming data.
I suspect that unless you're doing something unusual, the amount of airborne asbestos generated by carefully disconnecting and reconnecting wires to terminals even if the insulation contains asbestos, would be below the limits of detection.
I cannot find a UL Standard exactly matching LC783 (double-check what you saw) but there is
UL 783 a standard for flashlights used in hazardous locations
by (mod) -
early version of BX armored cable that has cloth wiring inside it. Does it contain asbestos
RE-posting Pete's comment without links [for security]
Hi I have an early version of BX armored cable that has cloth wiring inside it. Does it contain asbestos
I would like to install new light switches and would not want to inhale any asbestos since I'm already exposed at work. This is what it looks like: ... [unpublished links]
On 2016-06-23 by Pete
It also says on the UL tag LC783...and then its cut off
On 2016-02-29 by (mod) -
asbestos was used in the electrical wiring in cars
Howard, I don't have authoritative data about dates for the cessation of use of asbestos-wire insulation, but certainly it's possible that asbestos was used in wire insulation or in the wire loom or flexible conduit that covered the wire.
Unless you created or were exposed to a rather dusty mess, I am unclear about what might have been the source of a substantial exposure. If you are or were a smoker, of course, the risks are greater for you.
I installed car radios from 1965 - 1977 and have recent diagnosis of Mesothelioma. Trying to track down where I may have been exposed to asbestos. Do you know if asbestos was used in the electrical wiring in cars during that period? Thank you. Howard
On 2016-01-04 by (mod) -
Mike, yes asbestos was used in some telephone cabling & wiring. For space and to permit research citations I repeat your question and offer a detailed answer at the bottom of the article above.
Use the page bottom CONTACT link to send me some photos of the cross-section and outside view of your cabling and we can comment further.
On 2016-01-04 by Mike
would asbestos ever had been utilized in the telephone cable that has hundreds of copper conductors wrapped in paper and covered with a lead sheathing? Trying to know if this cable can be easily recycled.
How much asbestos I may inhale if I work with electric wire with asbestos for about a week. The fabric was torn and creating dust.
asbestos hazards in arc welders? Yes.
(July 22, 2014) Mark Hunter said:
I have 2 old arc welders which I salvaged, one has copper windings and the other aluminium windings. I want the windings to use in our hobby of jewellery makeing. Both are wrapped in a type of paper tape as insulation... Could this also contain asbestos?
(July 22, 2014) Mark Hunter said:
Sorry, Just went out and had another look, the aluminium windings have a paper like tape as well as a laquer and the copper windings have a hessian string coating with a what is now a brittle black woven sheath. same question though
Here is some research on asbestos used in arc welders as well as exposure of individuals using arc welders to asbestos
Becker, Nikolaus. "Cancer mortality among arc welders exposed to fumes containing chromium and nickel: Results of a third follow-up: 1989-1995." Journal of occupational and environmental medicine 41, no. 4 (1999): 294-303.
Becker, Nikolaus, Jenny Chang-Claude, and Rainer Frentzel-Beyme. "Risk of cancer for arc welders in the Federal Republic of Germany: results of a second follow up (1983-8)." British journal of industrial medicine 48, no. 10 (1991): 675-683.
Clarke, E.J. "Electrode for electric arc welding or soldering." U.S. Patent 1,893,160, issued January 3, 1933. describes use of asbestos yarn
Previously electrodes for the deposition of stainless steel have comprised a mild steel core wound with asbestos yarn or other suit able non-conducting composition or material in open spirals together with an extruded coating composed of the usual fluxing ingredients and a certain proportion of powdered ferro-chromium or chromium metal; when fusion takes place under the action of the electric arc the chromium or ferro-chromium alloys with the mild steel and a deposit of stainless steel results.
Electrodes for depositing stainless steels containing nickel, chromium and iron have also been made by electrolytically depositing the nickel upon a mild steel core, winding the rod so prepared with asbestos and then coating it with a compound containing powdered metallic chromium in addition to the usual fluxing ingredients.
-There is a limit however to the amount of metals which may be added to the coating of such electrodes. In those cases where the amount of added metals is relatively high, complete solution of the iron, nickel and chromium does not take place.
Kennedy, H.E. et al, Gas, Electrode Carrier. "Electric arc welding." U.S. Patent 3,023,302, issued February 27, 1962. includes use of asbestos (and mica) in flux carriers
Doig, A. T., and A. I. G. McLaughlin. "X ray appearances of the lungs of electric arc welders." The Lancet 227, no. 5875 (1936): 771-774.
Sjögren, Bengt, Klaus Stagis Hansen, Helge Kjuus, and Per-Gunnar Persson. "Exposure to stainless steel welding fumes and lung cancer: a meta-analysis." Occupational and environmental medicine 51, no. 5 (1994): 335-336.
Question: Anaconda Dutrax C or G , type NM with 600v rating containing asbestos?
(Jan 5, 2015) Chuck said:
Old. Anaconda Dutrax C or G , type NM with 600v rating. This wire insulation sure looks like the pictures
of the asbestos wiring that you have. Is it?
I'm sorry Chuck but just from your e-note I don't know the answer. If you face large possible costs you could have a sample of the wiring insulation tested by a certified asbestos lab (don't send it to me).
If the material is not damaged and is not in an area to be disturbed it might be left alone - lowest risk. Treat it as presumed to contain asbestos.
I would like to see some sharp photos of the wire and its insulation and markings - that may permit us to do some further research.
Schleicher, Robert H. The R/C Car Bible. Voyageur Press, 2006. cites use of asbestos-insulated materials and Anaconda Durex wiring
Question: asbestos used in PCB's (printed circuit boards)?
(Jan 13, 2015) Anonymous said:
was asbestos ever used in PCB's (printed circuit boards)?
I'm concerned my sega genesis and its game cartridges might contain in. The sega genesis came out in 1988 in Japan and 1989 here in the usa.
By 1988 it's unlikely you'd find asbestos in printed circuit boards. In older electronic equipment where asbestos may have been used in non-friable components most likely any asbestos release from those undisturbed components would be below the limits of detection.
Keep in mind that many electronic circuit boards include other highly toxic components that may be released, particularly during burning and possibly during demolition, as is the case as well with plastics in general.
PCBs are of course a separate hazard.
Thank you for the quick reply, i feel better about using my sega genesis now, thank you.
29 January 2015 Renée said:
When reviewing our Asbestos report it is noted that the incandescent light bulb heat shield fixture may or may not contain asbestos. I can not for the life of me figure out what they are making reference to. Please explain
Renee I can't of course see your report (you can send it to me by email found at our CONTACT US link at page top or bottom) but an incandescent light bulb is an older technology or "conventional" light bulb that uses a heated filament - unlike newer LED or florescent bulbs.
A heat shield fixture could be hidden away in any of many sorts of older light fixtures such as recessed ceiling lights or even a lamp socket.
I'd be interested to know if your inspector actually saw such a fixture or if rather you are seeing a generic "CYA" remark in a boilerplate section of a report. In any event only if asbestos material is soft, friable, damaged, or easily damaged and tracked into a living area is an individual light fixture asbestos material likely to be a measurable risk.
Question: asbestos in 1970's table lamps?
29 January 2015 Mary said
We took an old table lamp apart from the mid 1970's. Would there be the possibility of any asbestos in the wiring or the felt glued to the bottom. There were some fibers in the lamp on the felt bottom when we tore it off.
Also a few days later, it felt like something was stuck in my left nostril and was throbbing. It took about ten minutes of blowing and the use of saline solution to get any relief. Could this be because of asbestos spores in the air. The lamp was taken apart in the bedroom.
Reply: asbestos was used in some (not all) electric lighting lamps in lamp cords, sockets, insulators from at least as early as 1903
Asbestos was used in some (not all) electric lighting lamps in lamp cords, sockets, insulators from at least as early as 1903 (See Sylvania (1903) below. Its use in felt used to avoid scratching a table surface seems unlikely. However asbestos was used in a paper form in some lamp bases - See Vaughn (1950) in my citations and See Lewis (1935) in the citations below for an example.
I'll add that if the lamp bottom looks like white or white-gray paper that might be asbestos paper. If it looks like green felt, it probably is green felt.
Des, Jardins Leonard A., and Fred R. Fleming. "Apparatus for disinfecting shoes and the like." U.S. Patent 2,070,858, issued February 16, 1937. this product used asbestos
Heiser, Myron G., and Wheeler C. Gilbert. "Attachment plug." U.S. Patent 2,343,664, issued March 7, 1944. used asbestos in the cord plug and wiring
ISAACS, M. "Seed germinator." U.S. Patent 1,648,309, issued November 8, 1927. used asbestos sheets and a duplex lamp cord
Lewis, Edward H. "Lamp cord." U.S. Patent 1,989,483, issued January 29, 1935. cites use of asbestos in the lamp wiring.
SPATIG, CHARLES W. "SYLVANIA." U.S. Patent 729,862, issued June 2, 1903. Excerpt: This receptacle is provided with interior partitions 2, which form a box to receive the iron core or heating-coil 3. This latter is insulated with asbestos 4 or other suitable material which prevents the wire or core from coming in contact with the metal and has the feed wire 5 connected thereto.
Vaughan, Daniel J. "Lamp base." U.S. Patent 2,515,747, issued July 18, 1950. Used asbestos in the lamp base. Excerpt:
The base I comprises a body portion 3 of insulating material, preferably porcelain. The said body portion 3 is secured to the end of the envelope 2 by means of a metal skirt or collar 4 which is secured to an enlarged shoulder 5 on said body portion 3. Before the skirt 4 is slipped over the end of the tube 2, a thin strip 6 of asbestos paper moistened with a. solution of sodium silicate is wrapped around the envelope 2.
The skirt 4 is secured firmly in place on the envelope 2 by a suitable clamping strip 'i, the skirt 4 being provided with a multiplicity of slits 8 therein so as to be readily compressible by clamping strip 1 around the asbestos strip 6 and clamp the latter between the lamp envelope 2 and the clamp I.
The outer end 9 oi the body portion 8 carries a spade-shaped nietal electrical contact prong it which extends outwardly therefrom and longitudinally of the lamp envelope 2. The said prong i0 is electrically connected by a flexible conductor ii to the end of a current lead-in wire I! which extends through a seal l3 and is electrically connected to the electrode or filament (not shown) in the envelope 2.
The paper glued to the bottom of the lamp was a white-gray paper. You said that it might be asbestos. We tore it off the lamp when we were repairing the lamp. We did this work in the bedroom. A few days later I had an irritation in my nose that lasted for about ten minutes. What should I do? Is there possibly asbestos in the air? What should I do with the lamp? What should I do about breathing asbestos in the air? Is there anyone I can contact?
If it was gray white paper it may have been just cardboard or it *might* have been an asbestos paper.
Unless you really shredded the paper, I would guess that the amount of airborne asbestos from pulling off and throwing away a say 6-inch diameter piece of paper on a lamp bottom would be beneath the limits of detection.
I would not be inclined to spend much on this but if you are very anxious it might help to collect a settled dust sample from the bedroom (using clear adhesive tape) and have that examined by a test lab. That cost is about $50. U.S.D.
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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, ROSATO 1959, 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 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 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
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