Concrete sheets with asbestos in them on a roof

Why Was Asbestos Such a Popular Building Material?

Many people do not realize that asbestos is a naturally occurring material. It’s also been used for millennia, as we noted in our last blog. No one knows exactly when or how it was discovered, but those looking to build homes and empires quickly realized the critical importance of this material. Today, the professionals at Environmental Demolition Group explore why it became such a popular building material. 

Asbestos in History

There are writings and other evidence that reveals that the ancient Romans and Greeks used asbestos in a myriad of ways, including in their candle wicks, materials and when mummifying a body. Ancient Egyptians used asbestos in their mummies.

Despite records showing that those exposed to asbestos were somehow contracting lung illnesses, the material was still used. 

The Industrial Revolution

One of the reasons that asbestos’ use became so widespread was because it was a naturally occurring substance and affordable. 

During the Industrial Revolution from 1760 to 1840, commercial manufacturing companies were building and growing at an incredibly fast pace. Structures needed to go up quickly. They needed to be insulated from noise and harsh temperatures, as well as being fire retardant. 

Because asbestos resists water, chemicals, electricity, and fire, it fast became the building material of choice. Additionally, asbestos fibers are incredibly strong when mixed with other materials like concrete, ceiling tiles and masonry. 

In fact, asbestos fibers are so strong, the human body cannot break them down. When ingested or inhaled, they simply stay in the body, in the form they arrived in. During an autopsy of an Egyptian mummy, investigators found asbestos fibers completely intact in the mummy’s lungs. 


Believing that it was the best option to build with, companies began to manufacture various building products for the construction industry. These included roofing tiles, ceiling tiles, cement, insulation, stray coatings for ceilings, floors and walls, door, pipes, and window sills. Just about everything that a building contains could contain asbestos. 

If your building was built before 2000, you may need to have an asbestos inspection completed by an asbestos remediation specialist like those at Environmental Demolition Group. Why 2000? Because building structures may not have asbestos in them, but they may be constructed on basements that contained asbestos. 

When construction workers work with asbestos, moving it, hammering, nailing or drilling, fibers from the material are released into the air, and inhaled by anyone in close proximity. These fibers wedge themselves into the lungs or body, becoming further embedded with every breath. 

Repair or Removal 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are several ways to deal with asbestos: repair, cover, or removal. If a specialist inspects your building and determines that the asbestos materials are fully intact and pose no harm, these can be sealed and covered, eliminating any threat of harm. This is the least expensive option. 

If there are walls, tiles or other areas that are made of asbestos and have been damaged, a specialist can bring in a special crew to repair the compromised area. Once repaired, the material will be sealed, protecting future inhabitants from asbestos exposure. 

If the room or building is going to undergo a remodel or demolition, the asbestos materials will need to be removed. During this abatement process, removal specialists will seal off the area, including closing off air ducts and turning off air conditioning or heat. The materials will be carefully removed and disposed of in an environmentally responsible way to avoid contaminating the earth or air. While this is necessary to the health of everyone, this process can be time-consuming and extremely costly.

Asbestos Removal by Environmental Demolition Group

Environmental Demolition Group is your leader for comprehensive, single-source solutions to specialty contracting for the most complex environmental and demolition project challenges. Serving all major business sectors and industries, EDG is the premier contractor. 

If you think you might have asbestos in your facility, do not try to remove it yourself. Instead, contact us today or call 859-363-4863. We can give you a free consultation.