Discussing composite deck installation and construction will always touch on the topic of asbestos. Since its hazards were first identified, this formerly popular construction material has fallen out of favor. Is there a reason to worry about exposure when installing metal decks for your property?

an asbestos roof isn't safe unlike the composite deck

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural fiber known for its heat resistance and resilience. It has seen widespread use in the construction industry as an insulator or fire retardant. Before its debilitating effects on health were exposed, asbestos could be found in almost any building. It was also used in automobiles and other vehicles, particularly brakes, clutch lines, and transmissions.

When Did the Government Start Regulating Asbestos?
Governments have known of the health concerns surrounding the use of asbestos since the 1920s. In England, Nellie Kershaw filed the first known lawsuit involving asbestos in 1924. Unfortunately, Kershaw succumbed to asbestosis.

Five years later, another high-profile case emerged against Johns-Mansville Corporation, filed by Anna Pirskowski as a workers’ compensation claim. The company would file bankruptcy fifty-three years later, in 1982. It would establish a trust fund to compensate for any claims moving forward.

In the 1960s, public awareness of asbestos’ damage to one’s health began to grow. In 1966, legislators amended Rule 23 of the Federal Claims Procedures to allow class-action lawsuits for asbestos claims.

In July of 1989, the US Environmental Protection Agency finally passed a rule that regulated the material’s use. However, as of 2020, the US government still has to enact a law that would eventually ban asbestos use in workplaces.

Adverse Effects of the Material on Our Health

Asbestos exposure is one of the primary causes of death among blue-collar workers. Data from the World Health Organization also pins 50% of all work-related deaths on asbestos. In the United States, more than 700,000 individuals have filed lawsuits against more than 8,000 businesses claiming compensation for injuries from asbestos.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer sets in when asbestos fibers damage the lungs sufficiently to trigger abnormal development in the cells. These abnormal cells continue to multiply like normal cells and, over time, overwhelm the healthy ones. When this happens, tumor masses grow and spread throughout the lungs. Without treatment, the cancer cells could metastasize or move to other body parts.


Mesothelioma is a pervasive cancer that develops when asbestos fibers embed themselves in the lung, gastrointestinal tract, or heart lining. The fibers cause scarring, which in turn causes the development of tumors.

There are three types of mesothelioma, namely:

  • Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the pulmonary linings. It is the most common form of the disease.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma. This variant makes up about 15-20% of all cases. It affects the stomach and the intestines.
  • Pericardial mesothelioma. This is the rarest form of the ailment. Only 1-2% of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma suffer from this type.

Mesothelioma develops slowly. Most patients diagnosed with this cancer recall exposure to asbestos several decades before the symptoms started appearing. Victims must seek confirmation of the diagnosis to initiate litigation and claim compensation within the statute of limitations imposed by their State.


Asbestosis is a pulmonary inflammation caused by fibers that get into the lungs. The fibers irritate the alveoli or the tiny air sacs that expand and contract as we breathe. These air sacs are vital for the proper functioning of the lungs. The alveoli become damaged and scarred with asbestosis, resulting in breathing problems.

The disease may manifest itself in the following symptoms:

  • Long-term dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the chest area
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Clubbing, or the widening of the fingers

Smoking can accelerate the development of this lung ailment.

Who Were at Risk for Asbestos Exposure?

A large part of the American population was exposed to asbestos between 1940 and 1979. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry estimates about 27 million workers had inhaled airborne asbestos fibers during that time. Because asbestos is only regulated, various industries continue to subject their employees to that risk.

Below are some of the high-risk occupations for asbestos exposure:

  • Aircraft and automobile mechanics
  • Firefighters
  • Rescue personnel
  • Construction workers
  • HVAC industry workers
  • Factory personnel
  • Oil refinery employees
  • Miners

Can a Composite Deck Expose You to Asbestos?

Installing a new composite deck does not automatically mean asbestos exposure. Metal decks themselves don’t have asbestos fibers in their composition.

However, a metalworker may be exposed to asbestos in the protective wear used in metal smelting and cutting facilities. It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure none of their employees are using asbestos-containing products.

People living in older buildings could also be exposed to asbestos through plumbing, heat and electrical insulation, and concrete. Touching these surfaces could disturb and release asbestos fibers into the air.

Installing a composite deck does not expose you to asbestos, a highly regulated material

Looking to Install a Composite Deck?

Here at Miami Meal Deck, we prioritize the safety of our clients and employees. We comply with the standards of agencies like the Occupational Safety and Hazards Administration (OSHA). Contact us now and find out more about our projects.