Exposure hazards from continuing use and removal of asbestos cement products.
Asbestos cement (AC) is used in water pipes, roofing, exterior siding, water tanks, cooling towers, and other applications. Although the global market for asbestos is slowly shrinking, AC products continue to dominate the remaining uses in many countries. This review focuses on asbestos exposures during the installation, maintenance, and ultimate removal of these materials. This assessment summarizes the available published and unpublished reports of airborne asbestos exposures during the cutting and removal of AC pipes, roofing, sheets, and cooling tower components and the range of exposures associated with the most common work practices. Task-based exposures from cutting AC pipe ranged from 11.3 to 129.0 f/cm3 with a mean exposure of 53.8 f/cm3. Cutting flat boards and corrugated roofing AC sheets resulted in exposures ranging from 1.3 to 130.0 f/cm3 with a mean of 24.0 f/cm3. Exposures for power saw cutting of AC sheets and pipes fit lognormal distributions and suggest that more than 86% of these tasks with AC sheet and 100% of the tasks with AC pipe exceed the US short-term Excursion Limit. Intermittent high exposures from the ongoing use of AC products in countries around the world are associated with an increased lifetime risk of asbestos-related disease.
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