While many people generally link asbestos exposure to mining, shipyards, factory work, construction or heavy industry, the unfortunate reality is that companies used the material in countless occupations and consumer products. Due to the heat-resistant nature of asbestos, organizations manufactured numerous products using the material. Unfortunately, as the product ultimately broke down and deteriorated, the asbestos fibers became small enough to inhale or ingest leading to deadly conditions such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
For hundreds of years, builders used asbestos fibers to enhance thousands of products eventually leading to mass production including steam pipes, flooring tiles or roofing shingles. The products are so common that individuals often do not understand the threat of exposure until it’s too late. While there are numerous types of products, three categories stand out, including:
- Household appliances: Due to the heat- and fire-resistant properties, nearly any consumer appliance that could potentially heat up through the 1970s relied on asbestos for an added layer of protection. Appliances such as a hairdryer, toaster or a crock pot could be a source of asbestos exposure. Additionally, power cords in vintage appliances might contain an asbestos coating to prevent electrical fires.
- Beauty products: A common product in numerous beauty products is talc. Most talc mines are hopelessly contaminated with asbestos.
- Holiday decorations: It is not uncommon for families to pass holiday decorations from generation to generation. Unfortunately, many vintage decorations used asbestos to prevent fires due to overheating. Additionally, manufacturers formerly used asbestos as a decorative element on many of the items that included fake snow.
Even from common household products, exposure to asbestos can lead to devastating health issues, leading to mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer or a range of other debilitating respiratory illnesses.