Asbestos Ban Announced

December 02, 1977
Release Number: 77-118

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today approved a ban of two consumer products containing inhalable asbestos -- consumer patching compounds containing asbestos and artificial fireplace ash containing asbestos. The Commission believes that certain types of cancer may result from inhaling free-form asbestos fibers released into the air during the use of these products.

The asbestos content of a given product is not necessarily the sole criterion for that product's relative health risk. A health risk occurs when asbestos fibers become airborne and can then be inhaled. Free-form asbestos is that which is not bound or otherwise "locked-in" to a product and, therefore, can readily become airborne.

Consumer patching compounds are available in dry form (to be mixed with water by the user) or in a ready-mix paste form and are used to cover, seal or mask cracks, joints, holes and similar openings in the trim, walls and ceilings of building interiors. Asbestos fibers are released into the air after application, when the patching compound is sanded or scraped in the process of finishing or smoothing the surface. Asbestos may also be released into the air when the dry form of patching compound is mixed with water prior to use.

Approximately half of all patching compounds sold contain asbestos. These products generally do not have ingredients listed on the label.

Artificial fireplace emberizing materials (ash and embers) are used in gas- burning or artificial fireplace systems for decorative purposes; when subjected to high temperatures, the asbestos in these products produces a glow similar to real embers and ash. Asbestos fibers are released into the air when the emberizing material is sprinkled on the fireplace floor, when glue used by the consumer to attach the material to an artificial gas-burning log melts at high temperatures, and when household air currents disturb the ash.

The ban of artificial fireplace ash containing asbestos takes effect as soon as notice of the ban is published in the Federal Register. The ban on asbestos- containing patching compounds is staggered; thirty days after publication in the Federal Register manufacturers of patching compounds containing asbestos may no longer produce or distribute into commerce these products, and 180 days after publication, all other distribution and retail sales of asbestos-containing patching compounds must halt. Publication of the ban in the Federal Register is expected before the end of the year.

Consumer Alert

Proposed Instructions for Removing Non-Burning Artificial Fireplace Logs, Gas-Burning Fireplace Logs and Ashes Containing Asbestos

(Emberizing Materials)

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that in the past 10 years about 300,000 to 500,000 consumers have purchased artificial fireplace ash. Artificial fireplace ash is a material containing asbestos, placed under logs in gas- burning fireplace systems or in artificial fireplaces for decorative purposes. The asbestos material also may be glued to artificial logs. When heated, the material glows like real embers and ash.

Asbestos can cause cancer. Therefore, the Commission is going to ban artificial fireplace ashes (asbestos emberizing materials) and consumers should remove the ashes from their homes using the following procedures. Read all of the instructions and make sure you understand them BEFORE you start to remove the ash.

Equipment

You will Need:

--Two heavy-duty plastic bags;
--Two pieces of string or "ties" for fastening the bags;
--One flat-bottomed scoop (sugar scoop, dust pan or small, plastic toy shovel);
--A covering for the nose and mouth. (This could be a dust face mask, available at most drugstores, or a single-use respirator. Respirators may be purchased at most hardware stores.);
--One pump spray-type bottle (window cleaner bottle, plant mister, etc.);
-- A generous supply of paper towels or pieces of cloth (for wiping up) ;
-- A supply of newspaper;
--Washable clothing.

Preparations

Proper removal and disposal of the ash also requires that you:

--Be careful not to create dust from the ash and embers in the fireplace.
--Clear the room of all other people and pets.
--Close all windows and doors which might cause a draft.
--Close the fireplace flue damper.
--Fill the pump spray bottle with water and 2 or 3 drops of liquid detergent. Do not make a lot of suds in the bottle.
--put one plastic bag inside the other.
--Cover your nose and mouth with a respirator or face mask.
--Do not try to disconnect the gas line as this should only be done by licensed plumbers or gas company personnel. Be sure gas valve is turned off.

Removal Procedures

--Do not try to vacuum this material.

--Lightly spray the ash and embers with the water and detergent mixture until the ash is thoroughly dampened. Do Not POUR Water on the Ash and Embers. Be careful not to stir up the ash and embers while spraying.

--Using the scoop or small shovel, put the ash and embers into the double plastic bag. (If the ash and embers are in a pan located under the grate, put the entire pan into the bag).

--Put the scoop or shovel into the plastic bag.

--With wet paper towels or pieces of cloth, wipe the remaining ash and embers from the fireplace floor and surrounding area two times. Also, wipe all fireplace tools and the artificial logs with damp paper towels or cloths to remove any possible ash and embers. Put the cloth and towels into the plastic bag.

--Put the face mask or respirator into the plastic bag.

--Use one piece of string or a "tie" to close the inside plastic bag tightly. Do not try to get the air out of the bag. Use one piece of string or a tie to close the outside plastic bag.

--All clothing worn while cleaning up should be washed immediately after use. This clothing should be washed separately from other clothing or household articles. Do not shake clothing before washing. Take a bath or shower immediately following clean up.

Disposal Of The Plastic Bags

Attach the following label to the bag. Print in large letters:

CAUTION: CONTAINS ASBESTOS. AVOID BREAKING OR PUNCTURING THE BAG.
DO NOT burn the bag in a trash barrel.
DO NOT take the bag to an incinerator.
DO NOT put the bag in a trash compactor.

Call your local environmental services agency, sanitation or health department for instructions on disposal. These agencies are listed in the white pages of your local telephone directory.

Exemptions

Fake fireplace logs, usually made of pressed wood which can burn, are not included in the CPSC ban.