Asbestos in Old Electrical Wiring

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Electrical wiring is found in any facility that has electricity. Almost all electrical wire is insulated by electrical cloth and other materials that prevent fires. If an electrical short happens that causes a spark, it is dampened by the electrical cloth around the wire and dies out.

Before the 1980s, asbestos was often used in the cloth for electrical wiring. Asbestos is a carcinogen that can lead to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

Below is more information about asbestos in old electrical wiring. If you were an electrician and developed mesothelioma, you may want to speak with a mesothelioma attorney. You could be eligible for compensation.

History of Asbestos in Electrical Wiring

Asbestos is an excellent insulator and resists heat and fire. It also does not conduct electricity, so it was a natural insulator for electrical wiring. Asbestos was used in electrical wiring for 68 years – from 1920 until 1988.

The most common type of asbestos used in electrical wiring was crocidolite or blue asbestos. Unfortunately, blue asbestos is one of the most hazardous types of asbestos. It is made of sharp, fine fibers that are easy to inhale. (

Studies have shown that crocidolite asbestos is so dangerous that it may have caused more cases of mesothelioma than any other type of asbestos. Crocidolite asbestos not as heat resistant as other forms, so it was most often used in insulation for electrical wiring.

Uses of Asbestos in Electrical Wiring

Unlike home insulation, asbestos that was used in electrical wires was not used as-is. It was usually infused into other materials, such as paper or cloth so it had the needed flexibility to follow the wire through the wall. ( Some of the uses of asbestos in electrical wiring before the 1980s included:

  • Asbestos insulated wiring: Asbestos would be mixed with some textile, and then braided or wrapped around the wire. Sometimes there would be a second textile wrapped around it for more durability.
  • Asbestos varnished cloth wire: Asbestos impregnated cord that is put around a wire with varnish added to improve durability. It is almost indistinguishable from other varnished cloth wires that did not contain asbestos.
  • Asbestos paper: Paper infused with asbestos was used in miniature electrical units. It can be found in older appliances as a divider between electronic components. It also was used as wire wrapping.

Employees who worked with the above materials before the 1980s were at a higher risk of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos Exposure in Electrical Wiring

People who worked with electrical wiring insulation in manufacturing were at the greatest risk of being exposed to the dangerous mineral. In the past, the risk often was from installation work. Workers would have to handle, cut, and manipulate electrical wiring insulation during construction and renovation of buildings.

Today, the risk of asbestos exposure is much less, but there is still danger when a person works with electrical wiring in older buildings where asbestos electrical wires still exist.

People who were most likely to be exposed to asbestos in old electrical wiring were:

  • Electricians
  • Construction workers
  • Supervisors
  • Wiring manufacturers
  • Do it yourself home remodelers

Electricians At Highest Risk of Exposure

Electricians are among the highest-risk of asbestos exposure in electrical wiring. Asbestos also was used in the sheetrock that covered electrical systems. Electricians had to tear into dangerous drywall in some cases to get to the electrical components that needed work.

This required them to drill or cut into insulation, tile, and drywall to access the insulated wires. ( It was in these types of processes that asbestos particles could become airborne and be inhaled by electricians or anyone in the area.

Research has shown that electricians are at an elevated risk of asbestos exposure. One study looked for mesothelioma biomarkers in 100 workers who were exposed to asbestos on the job.

Biomarkers, proteins that show the presence of mesothelioma cells, were present in the electricians in this group. Electricians had the greatest risk of mesothelioma biomarkers. (

Health Dangers of Asbestos in Electrical Wiring

Asbestos in old electrical wiring poses major health hazards and is a problem to this day. While asbestos is not used in modern electrical wiring, many older homes contain wiring that has asbestos insulation. If that electrical wiring is cut or disturbed during remodeling or demolition, invisible shards of asbestos can be inhaled or swallowed by workers or homeowners. (

This exposure to asbestos in electrical wiring over time can be extremely dangerous and lead to mesothelioma. Most patients do not realize they have the disease until stage 3 or 4 when the cancer is hard to treat and the prognosis is grim.

Electricians who work on houses built before the 1980s should use caution when performing any renovations of electrical work. Protective breathing gear should be used to ensure there is no asbestos exposure.

Also, working with electronic devices built between the 1940s and 1970s could be dangerous as they often contained asbestos. The electrical cords are often the initial point of failure and they can contain asbestos fibers.

Companies That Used Asbestos in Electrical Wiring

There were many small and large companies that used asbestos in electrical wiring for decades. Some of the best-known companies are:

  • Westinghouse Electric Company
  • General Electric Company
  • Bartells Asbestos
  • Connecticut Light & Power Company
  • Bath Iron Works

Asbestos Lawsuits in Electric Wiring

Many former workers and families have filed personal injury lawsuits related to asbestos exposure on the job. Many lawsuits were filed by electricians. In one lawsuit, an electrician for Carnival Cruise Lines died of asbestos-caused lung cancer because of years of asbestos exposure on cruise ships. (

In another lawsuit, an electrician worked around asbestos for 40 years and did not know it. When he was 78, he filed a lawsuit because he developed pleural mesothelioma. His doctors told him that his work around asbestos and smoking caused his cancer years later.

Request Immediate Legal Help

With over $30 billion available for victims through asbestos bankruptcy trust funds, you are entitled to financial compensations without ever filing an asbestos, lung cancer or mesothelioma lawsuit. You need legal representation to get started. Mesothelioma & lung cancer victims qualify immediately. Complete the form or call us toll-free (800) 352-0871 immediately.