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The Dangers of Asbestos in Farming

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

You would never think that asbestos exposure would be a probem for those working in farming. But farmers and workers in this industry are exposed to many products that contain asbestos.

Farm Building With Asbestos Source: Geograph Org.

What is Asbestos and Why Is it Dangerous

It is a mineral known to be durable and fireproofing properties, Asbestos is added to many consumer products used in farming. If it breaks down and become airborne and you breathe it in the fibers can become embed in your organs and cause lung disease and cancer. Symptoms of asbestos exposure are dry cough, fatique, weight loss, muscle weakness, abdominal and chest pain. Often illness does not occur until years after exposure.

What Farming Products and Equipment Have Asbestos In Them?

Tractor Source: Wikipedia

Farming Machinery and Parts

Farming equipment and parts are known to have asbestos in them because it is very durable and reduces the chance of fires. It was used in tractor parts, gaskets, engine parts, and brake pads, Any parts that deal with heat and friction may contain asbestos.. Although asbestos was taken off the market these part were still sold with asbestos by well known manufacturers.

Shed With Asbestos: Geograph Org

Constuction Materials Used For Buildings

Asbestos can be found in farmhouses, chicken coops, and garages used to keep animals and store equipment. It is in walls, insulation, floors, roof shingles, and cement. It is not dangerous unless its damaged, breaks down, and gets into the air. If you suspect asbestos in your buildings contact a building inspector or asbestos specialist to see if your building are safe. They have ways to remove it.

Farming Products Used For Soil

Vermillite is a natural minteral that occurs in the soil and sometimes forms near asbestos. It is heat resistant and has been used in soil conditioners, potting soil, fertilizers, pesticides, potting mixes for specific plants, compost. and root cutting.

Vermilite Mineral: Dream Times

Many of these products are contaminated with asbestos and you should check to see if what you use is one of them. Asbestos and vermalite are minerals that form in the soil naturally and the soil that farmers used can be contaminated from using these products or from the natural formation of the the mineral.

When soil is contaminated in gardens and farms there are services available to help with soil contamination. There is soil removal, soil washing, and soil vapor extraction. Some farmers raise crops in raised beds and use containers gardening. Removing the soil is a very expensive process.

There are biological services offered that are less expensive to treat soil and require more time. They are microbial remediation, fungal remediation, and compost remediation. These stratgies have been developed by the Enviromental Protection Agency and private companies. These methods take more time but are less expensive.

Asbestos Workers Cleaning Building Source Wix Media

For More Informaton on Asbestos Dangers and Farming Please Visit These Links


Farmers and Asbestos, by Michelle Whitmer,, September 2023

Asbestos in Farming and Agriculture, Thrifty Homesteader 2023

Asbestos Exposure and Reducing Exposure, ASTRD, November 2016

Dealing With Contaminated Soil, by Tara Hammonds, Cornell College of Agricuture and Life Scienes

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