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Obscure and Everyday Asbestos Products from the 20th Century

asbestos exposureBecause of the dangers surrounding asbestos exposure, concerned consumers have become wary of construction materials, particularly those that were used to build structures before the 1980s. However, a columnist for the website Greener Ideal pointed out that asbestos was used for more than just construction and cars. During the 20th century, people handled several asbestos products on a daily basis, which may be notable for senior citizens who are only now developing the symptoms of asbestos-induced diseases.

Material pervaded everything from decorations to hygiene products
The idea of being in a building with aging asbestos insulation can be frightening for educated consumers. Imagine the horror you’d feel if you realized you were touching asbestos regularly, or worse, putting it directly in your mouth.

Greener Ideal columnist Paula Whately wrote about several more obscure uses of asbestos from the 20th century:

  • Decorative snow. Between the 1930s and 1950s, asbestos was used for fake snow in Christmas decorations, and even used for set dressing on “The Wizard of Oz.” Part of what made it so appealing was the fact that it was fire-resistant.
  • Toothpaste. After World War II, some toothpaste manufacturers included the mineral in their product to act as the abrasive agent.
  • Beauty salon hair dryers. The hood-style hair dryers used during the 1950s included a layer of asbestos that was meant to protect customers from being accidentally burned.
  • Surgical thread. After World War II, asbestos was added to some types of surgical thread in order to make it both stronger and more flexible.

What you can do
It’s also important to remember that the U.S. government still allows asbestos to be used in the manufacturing of several products, including cement sheets, vinyl floor tiles, gaskets, automatic transmission components and automotive brake system parts. Consumers who are concerned about this need to keep putting pressure on their lawmakers to curb the use of asbestos.

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