Asbestos exposure is a risk at any time of year when people work with or live near airborne asbestos particles.
That said, the holiday season comes with the potential for an increased risk of asbestos exposure. Below, we examine four hazards that can be particularly common during the holidays.
1: Old decorations
Passing down family heirlooms is a common holiday tradition. And many families pass down delicate ornaments and other decorations. These items can be packed in old boxes or tucked away in the attic of a childhood home.
The decorations and the materials in which someone stored them could contain asbestos, as it was commonly used in many different products for decades. Breaking a product containing asbestos or disturbing materials after being intact for many years could release harmful fibers.
2: Building materials
Fires are a very real holiday hazard. As the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) notes, the most common culprits of a holiday fire include:
- Christmas trees
- Holiday lights and decorations
House fires can be a source of asbestos exposure because they disturb home building materials and other components that contain asbestos.
3: Dangerous toys
Kids’ toys should be safe, but too many of them pose a threat to children because they contain asbestos. Groups have found asbestos in products ranging from crayons and clay to toy crime lab kits.
Unfortunately, asbestos is not completely banned in products in the U.S. and other countries. Because of this, toys and other consumer products can still contain asbestos and other hazardous materials.
4: Products designed for warmth
Asbestos was widely used because it is a natural fire retardant. Manufacturers used asbestos as a means of fire-proofing products, including those designed to keep people warm.
Some of these products include:
- Electric blankets
- Oven mitts
- Firefighting gear
These products keep people warm while protecting them from fire and burns, but they can pose a threat if they contain asbestos.
Being mindful during the holidays
You may already have a lot to think about during the holidays, and checking for asbestos may not be high on your list of priorities.
However, exposure can have a devastating outcome. Thus, being mindful of potential hazards and avoiding them can be crucial during this time of year.