Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Zonolite Week Promoted the Installation of Deadly Insulation in Your Ypsilanti Home

"It used to be that only the wealthy few could enjoy the luxury of insulation. . . of having their homes protected against the chill of winter and bake-oven heat of summer."

Zonolite Week was a 1938 Ypsilanti promotion for a new type of fluffy, pourable insulation, one you could install yourself.

Just one little drawback for the men in the picture, working for hours in the attic among all that exposed zonolite, without any respirators.

Zonolite contained one of the most dangerous types of asbestos, from a contaminated Montana mine known to have caused illness and death in numerous Zonolite employees and nearby community members. The plant owners knew about the deadly properties of the insulation by the 1950s.

They continued to sell Zonolite until 1985.

The insulation may still be in "millions of homes," notes a website about mesothelioma, the disease caused by the product. The EPA reckons that about 35 million homes still contain the substance, and notes that renovations and home repairs can dangerously stir it up.

Zonolite was sold in Ypsilanti 72 years ago. Tragically, it is still with us, and its story is still being written.


Dusty D said...

Here is a Flickr thread about asbestos figuring in to the ongoing cleanup of Detroit's celebrated old Michigan Central Station building:

Dusty D said...

...& the accompanying 1987 MCRR Central Station video linked on that page is beautifully done and something to see.