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Asbestos: A key ingredient in the "good old days"

The middle of the 20th century is often rememberd as a magical time in the United States. After WWII, the value of family was at an all-time high. Family units were as strong as the economy. Television created a unified vision of what it meant to be an American. These ideals involved fathers mowing lawns with precision, children playing kick the can in the middle of suburban streets and wives preparing delicous meals that were ready just in time for their husbands to arrive home from work.

The early 1950s were iconic, and today, millions look back with overwhelming nostalgia. With every year that passes, however, new research reveals just how many of those memories include asbestos, a known carcinogen. The use of the product was so wide from the 1930s to the 1980s that hardly anyone could have gone without exposure at some level. Here are some iconic memories that, unfortunately, include asbestos.

Deck the Halls

In the early 20th Century, artificial snow often came from asbestos, because, among many reasons, it was fluffy and fire proof. "Asbestos: Pure White Fire Proof Snow" was a product you could purchase at nearly any store and sprinkle all around your home to create a holiday atmosphere.

Saturday morning cartoons

Before expanded children's programming and streaming services, children spent the whole week looking forward to Saturday morning cartoons. Many American's fondly remember those days. Sitting on the carpet with a bowl of sugary cereal, many children were inches from asbestos-backed carpet.

The chimney 

Christmas is a magical time. This is both a feeling that children possess and an explanation that parents use to explain how Santa operates. The ability to discern who is naughty and who is nice, and then sneak down chimneys to deliver presents to all the children in the world is hard to explain without citing magic. The chimney that many children hung their stockings by likely had a heat resistant asbestos lining.

Fortunately, it is unlikely that the carpet padding or chimney lining would release asbestos dust unless disturbed. Still, it is important to remember that, although we can look back at the 20th century with fondness, certain products contained asbestos fibers that are still with many of those children today, lodged in their lungs, potentially developing into mesothelioma.

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