One skeptic was the late-Herbert Levine who invented spray fireproofing with wet asbestos in the late-1940s. Levine’s invention involved a combination of asbestos with mineral wool and made commonplace the construction of large steel framed buildings.
Levine’s company, Asbestospray, was familiar with the World Trade Center construction, but failed to get the contract for spraying insulation in the World Trade Center. Levine frequently would say that “if a fire breaks out above the 64th floor, that building will fall down.”
…asbestos fireproofing was only used up to the thirty-eighth floor of the first WTC tower and not at all in the second. Continuing asbestos hysteria eventually resulted in much of the asbestos eventually being ripped out of the first tower.
Berlau recounts how the effectiveness of asbestos fireproofing was proven during an intense Feb. 13, 1975 fire that burned for more than three hours in the elevator and utility shafts from the ninth to nineteenth floors of the first WTC tower – an area where asbestos fireproofing was still intact at the time. Despite the fire’s intensity – it burned nearly everything, including telephone panels and wiring, and got hot enough to blow out windows – the asbestos fireproofing contained the fire so that it did minimal damage to the rest of the building.
Post-Sept. 11 testing by NIST indicates that the original testing of the non-asbestos fireproofing was wildly inaccurate. In simulations by NIST, the non-asbestos fireproofing was far inferior to asbestos in terms of melting points and ability to keep fire from spreading.
“Some of the non-asbestos fireproofing probably just burned off,” writes Berlau.
The irony is that there is no evidence that anything was gained in terms of health benefits by not using asbestos fireproofing. The original concerns that indoor air would be contaminated by passing over asbestos fireproofing were unfounded.
(Content warning) Newfies to the rescue: