We were asked by a manufacturer, who during one period of time had produced an asbestos-containing high temperature insulation material, to conduct research and forensic investigations regarding the historical use of materials and equipment at particular steel plant locations throughout the U.S. Of particular interest was high temperature insulation that had been installed during the period of time during which the manufacturer was producing such a product.
We initiated a search of public records, including historic aerial photographs, and publicly available documentation of the date each item of equipment was installed in each plant. As iron and steel making equipment is large, we were able to use our knowledge of steel making equipment to locate the equipment on the historical aerial photos. Our knowledge of steel making equipment, augmented by our library of historical manuals on iron and steel making, allowed us to prepare detailed descriptions of the involved equipment, including information on the temperatures of each involved system. Our experience with insulating materials, their physical properties and service temperatures, and our library of historic engineering manuals, insulating manuals, product catalogues, and steel plant journals allowed us to develop a detailed description of the insulating materials used on the equipment installed during the time period in question. This allowed locations where insulation with the temperature service range, and physical properties matching those of the manufacturer, could have been used in the plants.
The materials produced by our historical research, literature search, and our library, supported our experience, allowing us to prepare large maps of the involved steel plants that illustrated the location of equipment installed during the period of interest, and the locations where products of the manufacturer could have been used. This information was then available to be used as the basis for an exposure assessment for workers in the plant, both to products of the manufacturer as well as other asbestos-containing materials in the plant.