The Next Asbestos Debacle?

Cellulosic Material is highly friableAre you concerned about the future of projects where cementitious or cellulosic fireproofing has been applied? You should be.

An interesting set of recommendations and precautions has been offered by Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York (link to download at end below). In addition to Mt. Sinai, other major medical entities worldwide are identifying the fireproofing materials that many refer to as “oatmeal” as a probable source of various pulmonary disorders.
This is because these types of fireproofing materials are highly friable. Grab a section and pull it off. It typically isn’t hard to do. Note all of the fine particulate that breaks off with the section.  When you consider how much of that “oatmeal” material gets shed into the breathable air, it’s no surprise that medical problems could ensue.
The good news is the human body is resilient. However, concerns were originally raised in a study from 1988 by the USDOC and NIST regarding SFRMs (Spray-On Fire Resistant Materials) containing asbestos and others that didn’t. It also discusses both SFRMs and insulation materials, so it should be clear that each product has to be evaluated on its own merits (or risks).
That same particulate is in the air as you can see by how much of it settles out on every surface in a structure. harmful dust can settle in the structureOnce you breathe it in, it going to be in your body forever and potentially the source for a wide range of medical problems like COPD and mesothelioma. These and other diseases can cause respiratory impairment or even fatalities.
Perhaps that’s why many materials require everyone to leave the premises except the applicator. Then the applicator has to wear the “space suit” when working with those materials. This also causes massive scheduling delays and costs. One major GC in Las Vegas who primarily does nothing but projects valued at $120M+ said delaying his project by a month costs him $10M that he can never recover. Even a two week delay is obviously a $5M ding.
Carefully think about the materials you specify and use. Ask for an MSDS or SDS and read them. If many people read the MSDS or SDS documents, a lot of these products would be history.

Use a latex based intumescent coating like Contego. It is zero VOC and offers the same or better protection as cementitious or cellulosic without the possible associated medical outcomes down the line.

(You can download the Mt. Sinai recommendations here.)