In 1982 the United States government prohibited the use of asbestos in certain building materials because medical research concluded that the inhalation of asbestos fibers causes a rare form of incurable, fatal, lung cancer called mesothelioma. As you can imagine the multi-billion dollar chemical manufacturers like the W.R. Grace & Company teamed together to fight the federal government to allow the re-use of asbestos in thousands of products like vinyl floor tile, drywall mud, brake pads, and glue to name a few products that contained asbestos. Well, these companies both lost and won the legal battle. They lost the battle because they had to establish a 32-billion dollar trust fund to pay the medical expenses of mesothelioma patients who had died, or are dying, of lung cancer. I’m sure you have seen the television advertisements for attorneys who will fight for the money you are owed from companies who knew asbestos caused cancer but failed to protect their employees. They also won the legal battle because asbestos is used in hundreds, maybe thousands, of products sold today. If you know where to look you can find building material packaging with the words “Danger – Contains Asbestos” during your next home improvement project. Asbestos is dirt cheap, literally, since they dig it out of shallow mines in Montana and Canada, and it works better than any other natural or man-made product to strengthen any material and make them virtually fireproof. Make sure you read the label.