Asbestos in pianos – Play safe

asbestos in pianos


While asbestos was used in up to 3000 types of products, it is somewhat remarkable and unexpected to find asbestos in pianos.
There have been reports from piano technicians who have come across asbestos in some piano parts inside older pianos, and the use of asbestos in piano padding was actually documented as one of the industry applications of asbestos in the 1959 “Asbestos: Its Industrial Applications ” book by D. V. Rosato and the US “Federal Register 1979 vol. 44, No. 202”.


asbestos in pianos
Asbestos in piano and organ felt (Federal Register)

Where can I find asbestos in pianos?

Key hammer felt

Key hammer felt in most pianos is more typically organic fibers. Allthough older piano key hammers could have been made of asbestos, as that is listed in the Rosato documentation from 1959, and in the Federal Register. It is not clear what models of pianos it was used in, but somewhere along the line it was used to some degree.
When the hammers wear down, respirable residue felt can be found all over the piano.
Obviously asbestos is not used anymore, and hammer felt is now typically made from wool.

asbestos hammer felt
asbestos hammer felt


Damper felt

Some older pianos could also have damper felt made of asbestos. Again, it is not clear which piano models it was used in.

Asbestos felt
Vintage piano with fibrous damping cloth


Damp chasers

To protect the piano interior and parts from moisture damage, many pianos contained a damp chaser system, containing a dehumidifier unit and a humidifier unit (or hydroceel). Certain older hydroceels contain asbestos, found to be both anthopyhylite asbestos and chrysotile asbestos in different samples.
Asbestos was probably only used in hydroceels manufactured before the 1970┬┤s.
The wiring to the damp chaser system could also have been insulated with asbestos, to protect the piano from electrical heat generation.
Some damp chasers were also insulated with vermiculite. Vermiculite can sometimes be contaminated with tremolite asbestos.

piano humidifier unit
piano humidifier unit

Asbestos inside humidifier unit
Asbestos inside humidifier unit




Sources:

“Asbestos: Its Industrial Applications (1959) – D. V. Rosato” (excerpt)
http://inspectapedia.com/hazmat/Asbestos_Applications.pdf

“Federal Register 1979 vol. 44, No. 202” (page 5) (hosted at EPA)
https://www3.epa.gov/airtoxics/asbes/fr/44fr60056.pdf

“Asbestos in Pianos”
http://inspectapedia.com/hazmat/Asbestos_in_Pianos.php

“Asbestos in hydroceel unit”
http://www.piano-tuners.org/piano-forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2933#p10827

“Asbestos in Pianos”
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1198717/



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