Individuals who work as chimney sweeps often encounter asbestos exposure. Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford is committed to seeking justice for chimney sweeps exposed to asbestos. 

Home fireplaces built in the United States before the 1990s often contain asbestos elements. Asbestos was common in fireplace bricks, artificial logs, and mortar to prevent too much heat from being absorbed and potentially causing a fire.

However, asbestos is a known carcinogen, and people regularly exposed to it can develop severe and fatal diseases, including mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Both homeowners and individuals who service older fireplaces are at risk from asbestos exposure. Homeowners who regularly use fireplaces during the winter are exposed to asbestos any time the substance is released into the air. Artificial logs and the actual fireplace structure can contain asbestos.

When asbestos fibers dissipate, anyone nearby may inhale them into their lungs. Over time, the fibers alter the chest membranes and lead to the development of severe disease.

Chimney sweeps perform regular cleanings and structure checks of home fireplaces. These workers often climb the chimney itself, removing excess debris and ensuring the proper functioning of equipment.

However, chimney sweeps have sustained constant exposure to asbestos due to the nature of their job. Before asbestos was known to be carcinogenic, these individuals regularly exposed themselves to asbestos toxins due to lax safety equipment and dangerous materials used in fireplaces.

Chimney Sweeps and Asbestos Exposure

Chimney Sweeps and Asbestos Exposure: The Dangers

Multiple components of fireplaces result in potential asbestos exposure. A few components known to contain asbestos are highlighted below.

Artificial Ash, Embers, and Gas Logs

Many homes use artificial gas logs in their fireplaces. They are convenient since homeowners don’t need to purchase natural logs and can simply turn on their fireplace whenever it gets cold.

In 1977, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned using artificial ash and gas logs containing asbestos. However, some older homes still have these hazardous materials. Chimney sweeps responsible for maintaining them are at risk for asbestos exposure, as are homeowners who use them.

Asbestos Flue

A flue encourages the gases that arise from a fireplace to evacuate through the chimney. Some vents are made from brick and stone, while others are cement-based. Many times, chimney flues contain asbestos as protection from excess heat. Anyone responsible for manufacturing or maintaining chimney flues containing asbestos may develop severe illnesses from exposure.


Some older homes used bricks and cement containing asbestos to absorb excess heat. Bricks and cement commonly line the chimney and in some cases may be used to attach the chimney to the roof itself. While older cement and bricks contained asbestos to prevent fires, they also exposed families and chimney sweeps to asbestos.


Many homes use insulation containing asbestos to prevent too much heat from fireplaces. Insulation containing asbestos commonly lined the chimney’s exterior and the walls surrounding the fireplace.

While home builders stopped using asbestos insulation in the 1990s, many older homes still have it. Chimney sweeps and homeowners may be exposed to asbestos from insulation, resulting in illnesses such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Chimney Sweeps and Asbestos Exposure: Companies Involved

Chimney sweeps and homeowners should be familiar with the various organizations that use asbestos in their products. Companies well known for producing goods for fireplaces include the following:

Dresser Industries, Inc.

Dresser Industries, Inc. was known for producing firebrick in place of natural logs in chimneys and fireplaces. Dresser Industries sold the firebrick under names like Nucon Firebrick and Metalkase Firebrick. Homeowners who purchased and used the company’s firebricks may have been unwittingly exposed to asbestos.

Johns Manville

Johns Manville was a significant producer of cement used to line chimneys and fireplaces. The cement was known as Transite, and up to 50% of its contents contained asbestos. Chimney sweeps who used Transite in their everyday duties were likely exposed to asbestos, especially if they performed their work before the 1980s.

Sherwin-Williams Paint Company

The well-known paint producer made a mortar containing asbestos that was regularly used in chimneys and surrounding areas. The mortar was known as Brick and Stucco Buff. Chimney sweeps and homeowners may have been exposed to the mortar.

This list is not fully inclusive. Other companies that regularly used asbestos in their products for home fireplaces and chimneys include:

  • GAF/Ruberoid
  • General Refractories Company
  • K. Porter
  • National Gypsum
  • Nebel Products Manufacturing Co.
  • Rutland
  • Selkirk Metalbestos
  • United States Gypsum
  • Van-Packer Company

Anyone who worked as a chimney sweep on homes built before the 1990s was likely exposed to asbestos. Multiple products containing asbestos were standard at that time. Chimney sweeps who continue to service older homes may be at risk for developing diseases related to asbestos exposure, including mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Chimney Sweeps and Asbestos Exposure Studies

Several studies have found a correlation between chimney sweeps, asbestos exposure, and the development of serious illness. A study on Swedish chimney sweeps followed 6,320 individuals and noted a higher-than-expected incidence of cancers. Lung, liver, esophagus, and bladder cancer were all noted.

Another study in Montreal found a higher risk of lung cancer among construction workers exposed to asbestos and other toxins, such as silica and calcium sulfate.

Finally, a large study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found a strong correlation between bricklayers and the development of trachea, bronchus, and lung cancers. The study evaluated mortality rates for over 10,400 members of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen between 1986 and 1991.

Chimney Sweeps and Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits

While the use of asbestos in fireplaces and chimneys was discontinued in the 1970s and 1980s, older homes still contain the materials. Chimney sweeps who service older homes should use adequate protection to ensure they don’t inhale asbestos particles during work.

Individuals exposed to asbestos from chimneys and fireplaces may develop symptoms of lung cancer, mesothelioma, and similar diseases, especially if they regularly worked as chimney sweeps without adequate protection in the 1980s and before.

Symptoms of mesothelioma and lung cancer often take years to develop. It may be decades before a doctor can diagnose an asbestos-related illness. Signs of mesothelioma to look out for include:

  • Chest pain
  • Excess coughing and sputum containing blood
  • Wheezing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Recurring illnesses such as bronchitis, flu, and cold
  • Fatigue

If you experience any combination of these symptoms, it’s essential to see a doctor for a proper evaluation. Tell them if you have any history of working as a chimney sweep, bricklayer, brick mason, or other position that may have resulted in asbestos exposure.

Chimney Sweeps and Asbestos Exposure Lawyers

Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford, LLC are well-known chimney sweeps and asbestos exposure attorneys. Our firm has helped numerous individuals obtain financial compensation for their asbestos exposure.

Over the past thirty years, we have obtained more than $1 billion in monetary damages for our clients suffering from diseases brought on by asbestos exposure.

As chimney sweeps and asbestos exposure lawyers, we can help you obtain compensation to pay for medical costs, mental pain and anguish, and disability. If a loved one has passed away due to illnesses related to asbestos exposure, we can assist you in pursuing an asbestos exposure wrongful death claim.

It often takes years for symptoms of lung cancer and mesothelioma to develop. If you suspect you may have prolonged exposure to asbestos due to your employment or other factors, it’s essential to seek medical treatment. The sooner a doctor diagnoses your illness, the more likely you will receive effective treatment.

Contact Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford, LLC to schedule a free consultation for potential claims involving asbestos exposure.