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Asbestos piano components: this article describes the common forms in which asbestos was used in pianos and gives the brands and dates of manufacture of asbestos-containing pianos using Starr pianos as a key example.
Reader Question: Did the Starr Piano company use any asbestos in any part / parts in there Star Remington Model?
Reply: Here are some example photos of standard, non-asbestos piano materials found in Starr pianos as well as advice on where to look for asbestos products
Thank you for the interesting Asbestos question about pianos. Certainly where asbestos is a general concern, an inspection onsite by an expert will provide far more assurance about asbestos risks than we can provide by web discussion. That said:
Asbestos was used in some piano padding. I have not found a referral to asbestos specifically used within pianos themselves. However it wouldn't surprise me if pianos made for humid climates didn't use asbestos millboard for some component parts.
According to our research, The Starr Piano Company was established in Richmond, Indiana in 1872. The pianos were manufactured and distributed under the labels of Cumberland, Duchess, Gennett, Krell, Minum, Tayser, Royal, Pullman, Remington, Richmond, Coronado, Schmoller & Mueller and Starr Pianos.
Some Starr piano owners and references refer to these labels as "models" of the Star piano line.
While asbestos was widely used in many products at that time, the Cumberland photos we've seen, at least of piano exterior, use the expected wood case and hard white and black keys that may be ivory and ebony or celluloid, typically glued over wood.
Some Places to Look for Asbestos Material in a Piano
Key hammer felt: The white piano key hammers (photo at left of a Starr piano interior) could have been made of asbestos as that product was listed by Rosato. Key hammer felt in most pianos is more typically organic fibers.
Cement asbestos millboard: Does your Starr Remington model piano include the lighted music well unique to the Starr piano line? Without having found details about the construction of the light well, I pose that a manufacturer might have used cement asbestos millboard as a light well liner for fire safety.
Light wells & light wiring: You'd want to look inside an antique piano for any questionable material such as asbestos millboard such as hidden structural components in a piano made for humid climates or around electrical components - look at the surrounding material used in the luminous music well if your Starr piano has that feature.
Because theatre wiring often used asbestos insulating jackets and because the light wiring on a piano light well might be subject to high temperature, that's another place to look.
If you have specific materials in mind from your piano then, can you send me [CONTACT] some sharp photos of the whole piano, its identifying marks/labels including inside the unit, photos of the parts in question. I can thus advise you about further sampling and testing as well as considering the question about whether or not testing is warranted.
Do not disturb asbestos unnecessarily: Finally, as with many asbestos-containing materials, especially non-friable materials like asbestos cement millboard, the more significant asbestos hazard would arise if you were demolishing or grinding or cutting the material. Leaving it alone or coating it in place are usually advised.
References for Star Pianos and Star Piano photos
Web search 08/13/2011, sources:
www.bluebookofpianos.com/agess.htm#STARR and cgi.ebay.com/Starr-Piano-Company-Rare-Vintage-Upright-Piano-1926-/270784146638? pt=Keyboards_MIDI&hash=item3f0bfe2cce - where a photo series showed only conventional piano materials at both the piano exterior and interior
www.sellmypiano.com/uprights.aspx/509 who provided some photos of a Cumberland model Star piano from 1909-1910 vintage.
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Asbestos, its Industrial Applications, D.V. Roasato, engineering consultant, Newton MA, Reinhold Publishing Co., NY, 1959, Library of Congress Catalog No. 59-12535. We are in process of re-publishing this interesting text. Excerpts & adaptations are found in InspectApedia.com articles on asbestos history, production & visual identification in and on buildings.
Asbestos Asbestos: How to find and recognize asbestos in buildings - visual inspection methods, list of common asbestos-containing materials
Asbestos Fiberglass: Indoor Air Quality Investigations: Health Concerns About Airborne Fiberglass: Fiberglass in Indoor Air from HVAC ducts, and Building Insulation
Asbestos Enviro-Scare: Electric Power Lines, Electromagnetic Fields, Cancer Risk, & "Enviro-Scare" - The Normal Curve Cycle of Public Fear of Environmental Issues
Asbestos Dust from the World Trade Center collapse following the 9/11/01 attack: the lower floors of this building contained spray-on fire-proofing asbestos materials.
Asbestos Asbestos Information Links: Asbestos Detection, Testing, Recognition, Hazards, Field Photos, and Information Sources, including
health-related links such as legal services and information about mesothelioma and other cancers.
"Asbestos in Plastic Compositions", A.B. Cummins, Modern Plastics [un-dated, pre 1952]
"Asbestos in Your Home," Spokane County Air Pollution Control Authority, Spokane WA 509-477-4727 www.scapa.org provides a one-page image, a .pdf file drawing of a house warning of some possible sources of asbestos in the home. The sources are not ranked according to actual risk of releasing hazardous levels of airborne asbestos fibers and the list is useful but incomplete.
Chrysotile [asbestos] and Its Uses, Louis Perron, Minerals and Metals Sector, Canadian Minerals Yearbook, 2002, Natural Resources Canada, web search 03/01/2011, original source: http://www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/mms-smm/busi-indu/cmy-amc/content/2002/20.pdf
The US EPA provides a sample list of asbestos containing products epa.gov/earth1r6/6pd/asbestos/asbmatl.htm
Thanks to Susan Kimball, Argus Pacific Corp., Puget Sound, WA, for pointing out that some products are permitted to contain more than 1% asbestos fibers by current standards provided that the fibers are encapsulated in an appropriate binder. Argus Pacific, in Seattle, WA 98119, 206.285.3373, is an industrial hygiene firm who also provide OSHA and DOSH regulated training in Washington State, providing classes in asbestos, lead, mold, hazardous waste, emergency response, and other occupational health, safety, and professional development topics. -- September 2008.
Work Practice for Window Removal and Window Putty Patching
With Less Than Or Equal To 1% Asbestos Window Putty and Caulking" University of Washington, 2002 http://www.washington.edu/admin/asbestos/1putty.html
How do I Manage Asbestos in our House or Apartment Building?, Illinois Department of Environmental Conservation, provides this article at http://www.epa.state.il.us/small-business/asbestos-in-home/
Asbestos in buildings - employee notice, University of Washington dept. of Environmental Safety, http://www.ehs.washington.edu/ohsasbestos/index.shtm
Window putty to be exempted from asbestos removal by State of Maine - http://list.uvm.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=SAFETY;wYpdKg;20010307113643-0500A
EPA Region 6 identifies window putty as asbestos containing - http://www.epa.gov/earth1r6/6pd/asbestos/asbmatl.htm
June 1997 - Window Putty - OSHA case cites contractor for asbestos exposure during removal of window putty http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=1091
Asbestos Identification, Walter C.McCrone, McCrone Research Institute, Chicago, IL.1987 ISBN 0-904962-11-3. Dr. McCrone literally "wrote the book" on asbestos identification procedures which formed
the basis for current work by asbestos identification laboratories.
Stanton, .F., et al., National Bureau of Standards Special Publication 506: 143-151
Pott, F., Staub-Reinhalf Luft 38, 486-490 (1978) cited by McCrone
Asbestos in Your Home U.S. EPA, Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
Asbestos NESHAP Adequately Wet Guidance, EPA340/1-90-019, December 1990, U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Stationary Source Compliance Division, Washington, DC 20460,original web source: http://www.epa.gov/region04/air/asbestos/awet.htm
Asbestos products and their history and use in various building materials such as asphalt and vinyl flooring includes discussion which draws on Asbestos, Its Industrial Applications, D.V. Rosato, engineering consultant, Newton, MA, Reinhold Publishing, 1959 Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 59-12535 (out of print, text and images available at InspectAPedia.com).
Fiberglass: Indoor Air Quality Investigations: Health Concerns About Airborne Fiberglass: Fiberglass in Indoor Air from HVAC ducts, and Building Insulation
Asbestos Information Links: Asbestos Detection, Testing, Recognition, Hazards, Field Photos, and Information Sources, including
health-related links such as legal services and information about mesothelioma and other cancers.
"Handling Asbestos-Containing roofing material - an update", Carl Good, NRCA Associate Executive Director, Professional Roofing, February 1992, p. 38-43
EPA Guidance for Controlling Asbestos-Containing Materials in buildings, NIAST, National Institute on Abatement Sciences & Technology, [republishing EPA public documents] 1985 ed., Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
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