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Asbestos shows up in some unusual places

Asbestos has been in the legal news for a couple of decades now. The first mesothelioma and asbestosis began entering the courts in the 1970s. By 1987, so many claims had been filed that one of the leading manufacturers, Johns Manville, established a settlement trust fund already in 1987. Most Americans are familiar with the dangers faced by people who worked around asbestos fiber dust on construction sites, shipyards and manufacturing plants. Unrestrained by restrictions that other nations had put into effect, American industry continued to rely on asbestos in their manufacturing processes for many years after a direct link to mesothelioma and asbestosis had been established by the medical community. To this day, asbestos has still not been banned outright in the United States.

While most people understand the dangers caused by inhaling the dust or absorbing the microscopic fibers through the skin, most consumers are unaware of how they interact with asbestos every day. We’ll use this blog post to discuss some of the consumer products that were once manufactured with asbestos, and which may still be in people’s homes and garages.

Beyond fiber dust

To understand the primary reason asbestos was (and is) used in manufacturing, it is important to know that the properties make it nearly impervious to flame and high heat. Manufacturers were likely to add asbestos to any area of the product that might melt or be otherwise negatively affected by intense heat.

Asbestos in products poses a different kind of danger than lead in water pipes and paint. Lead will leach into the water or may be ingested into the blood stream if eaten, effecting the brain. Asbestos included in materials will not cause a serious respiratory or pulmonary condition unless the dust fibers are inhaled (or absorbed), causing cancer to develop in the pleura membranes surrounding the lungs. Therefore, having a product such as old ceiling insulation or linoleum floor tiles in your home may not be a danger until the product is handled during removal.

Some consumer products that were once commonly manufactured using asbestos include:

  • Ironing boards and padded board covers: Some manufacturers coated the part of the board designed to hold the hot iron. When mesothelioma hit the news and manufacturers began receiving complaints about the coating chipping off, they switched their coating to vermiculite, which has been proven to contain asbestos fibers, as well.
  • Artificial Christmas tree snow: The use of asbestos in the fluffy artificial snow actually dates back to the days when lighted candles and poorly wired tree bulbs were a real fire hazard.
  • Cigarette filters: Advertising a ‘cooler’ smoke, Kent cigarettes once led the market through the 1950s. While nobody is likely to have an old pack of Kents lying around, it is amazing that the company decided to add asbestos to filters, despite knowing for decades there was a danger of mesothelioma.
  • Crayons: Not Crayola crayons, but the kind marketed to kids by Disney and Nickelodeon. The product was pulled as soon as the issue was made public in 2015.
  • Toilet seats and lids: Not because of the resistance to heat, but because asbestos was used as a stabilizing additive to the main material, bakelite, which is typically brittle.

Mesothelioma diagnosis

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestosis after working in an industry in which asbestos was part of the environment, there may be compensation available. Talk to an attorney at our firm right away.

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