Asbestos Ban Proposed

July 21, 1977
Release Number: 77-076

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today proposed a ban of two consumer products containing inhaling 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.

The Commission is proposing that manufacture, distribution and sale of these patching compounds be prohibited 30 days after a final banning rule is published in the Federal Register.

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 Commission is proposing that the ban on emberizing materials containing respirable, free-form asbestos take effect immediately after a final rule is published in the Federal Register.

Notice of both these proposed banning actions will be published in the Federal Register July 25, 1977. Interested persons will then have 30 days to submit written comments. There will also be an opportunity to make oral presentations of data, views, or arguments at a public meeting August 15, 1977. After review of all the written and oral comments, the Commission will vote on a final banning rule.