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Asbestos in Roving Products and Other Building Materials

In the textile industry, the term "roving" refers to the bundle of fibers that are used to create yarn, rope and other types of cording. This is the material from which nearly all types of asbestos fabrics have been made since ancient times. Asbestos fabrics have been around at least since the days of the Roman Empire, and there is indirect evidence that in ancient times the dangers of working with asbestos fibers were, to some extent, understood.

There are many different types of asbestos roving. Each type is classified into classes based on the type of asbestos mineral used in its fabrication. These classes were determined based on the quantity of asbestos fiber present, and on the electrical conductivity and magnetic properties that it possessed. The exact use for each type of roving depends on its intended use, and some asbestos roving poses a greater level of asbestos exposure risk than other types depending on the overall amount of asbestos present in it.

Most uses of asbestos roving were discontinued in the United States around 1979, as public knowledge of the dangers of asbestos became more widespread. However, asbestos roving is still used in some products, and should always be treated with extreme caution.

Roving Products Containing Asbestos

The following partial list of roving products were known to contain asbestos:

Product Name Start Year End Year
Amatex Asbestos Roving 1950
Atlas Turner Asbestos Roving 1948
H.K. Porter Roving
Raymark Roving 1929 1982
TBAC Asbestos Roving 1948

Hazards Associated with Roving Products

Asbestos roving posed health hazards to those who worked in its manufacture as well as to those who used the finished product; invariably, some amount of fibers wind up being released into the air and inhaled or ingested in both situations.

Once in the lungs, asbestos fibers cause various types of physical damage, depending on the variety. Asbestos inhalation is positively linked to the development of a wide range of health problems, from asbestosis to lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma. Most asbestos diseases have lengthy latency periods. This means that symptoms in most patients do not appear until many years after initial exposure. For this reason, former asbestos workers should have frequent check-ups and health monitoring; early detection leads to a better prognosis.



Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception: The Untold Story of Asbestos (New York: Touchstone, 2003)

Freund, K. and Marjorie Norton. Broadwoven Fabrics. United States International Trade Commission, Publication No. 3410.

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