Sixty-seven countries around the world have banned the use of asbestos. The U.S. is not among them — at least, not anymore. In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency banned asbestos in American products, but after the industry sued, a federal appeals court overturned the EPA’s ban two years later. Though asbestos has been somewhat regulated since then, it remains in countless products in the U.S. It could be in something you use almost every day.
Here are five products sold in California stores that might contain asbestos.
- Toys. Toys and other children’s products can contain asbestos. Often, these objects are imported from countries where asbestos is not tightly controlled, like China. In 2015, a news investigation found asbestos in crayons and toy crime test kits. More recently, it was found in children’s make-up. Any product that contains talc could have asbestos, because most talc mines are heavily contaminated with asbestos.
- Potting soil. Vermiculite is an ingredient found in most potting soil. For decades, most vermiculite came from a mine in Libby, Montana, which was contaminated with 26% tremolite and other amphibole asbestos fibers.
- Insulation. Vermiculite is also found in attic insulation. If the vermiculite was mined in the asbestos-contaminated mine, it would have the same problem as the potting soil.
- Crockpots. Though crock pots have not contained asbestos since the mid-1970s, manufacturers used to insulate the pot and as a fire retardant around the power cord.
- Hairdryers. Similarly, hairdryers used to contain asbestos felt to help prevent fires. A recall was issued in 1979, but only a fraction was ever recovered.
Fortunately, new asbestos products have largely disappeared from our homes and workplaces. But illnesses caused by asbestos exposure can take decades to appear. However, it is also present in wall joint compound and popcorn ceilings installed before 1978. Exposure you experienced in the 1980s or ’90s could sicken you today.