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The Lesser Known Dangerous Uses of Asbestos

The dangers of asbestos are an extremely serious matter. The more world-wide awareness raised of the effects of asbestos, the more people will be cautious of its presence in workplaces and public places, potentially saving many lives in the UK and around the world.

Asbestos Uses

The extent of the use of asbestos in everyday life is still around us today. For those well-informed of its many uses, we have put together a list of a few lesser known and unusual places you may not expect to find asbestos.

Firstly, for those unaware of asbestos and its previous, dangerous uses, asbestos was used as insulation in many houses from the 1950s to the 1990s before the carcinogenic traits of asbestos were recognised. Because of its natural strength and heat resistance, it was used for insulation purposes. 

Unusual Asbestos Uses You May Not be Aware of

Hair Salons

You may wonder where the risk of exposure to asbestos is in hair salon, perhaps assuming we mean the piping in the walls, but many older models of hair dryers contained asbestos insulation. One example is the old hooded hairdryers and heated handheld devices, which are rarely seen in modern salons. Repeated use of these appliances could lead to asbestos-related diseases

Performance Art

Did you know that for a scene involving fire, comedian and silent-film actor, Charlie Chaplin, would line his clothing with sheets of asbestos? This practice was more common than you would think throughout the theatre and cinema, with the asbestos sheets used to prevent burns and offer protection from heat when set alight.

Further to this, the fake snow used on stages and film sets - including The Wizard of Oz – contained asbestos fibres.

Unknown to performance artists at the time was the fact that the handling of even a small amount of asbestos could result in lung diseases and cancer such as Mesothelioma years after being exposed to it.

Cigarette Filters

If you required another reason to quit smoking, in the 1950s Kent Micronite Cigarette filters, produced by Hollinsworth & Vose Company, contained asbestos in order to provide heat resistance. Smoking is proven to result in lung cancer, but even a very small amount of exposure to asbestos dust could sadly cause you to develop Mesothelioma later in life – it can take a minimum of 10 – 20 years for doctors to diagnose.

Talcum Powder

Studies from the 1960s revealed asbestos-related diseases believed to be linked to inhaling or ingesting talcum powder. Most consumer-graded talcum powder products no longer contained asbestos by the 1970s, but there have since been cases reported in the news featuring traces of asbestos in talcum powder.

These are just a few of the more unexpected examples of the massively widespread use asbestos.  The material was so useful in so many ways; it was resistant to heat, friction, weathering, chemicals, and for that reason was incorporated in many products.  Sadly, those very qualities of resilience are what makes asbestos so dangerous in the human body. If breathed in, the fibres from which the substance is made remain trapped in the lungs for many years and can cause a number of asbestos-related diseases.  Thankfully, although many millions of people have been exposed to some level of asbestos over previous decades, only a relatively small number succumb to disease as a result.  Although risk of very serious disease is statistically low, upwards of 2500 people each year are diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung caused by asbestos. The on-going danger of contact with asbestos in the environment is one which still has to be guarded against.

The number of people diagnosed with Mesothelioma has quadrupled in the last 30 years in the UK; for many their diagnosis will have come so long after the initial exposure to asbestos, it is likely they don’t remember it.

David Cass is a Senior Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Sheffield.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have a specialist team of Asbestos Compensation Solicitors that deal with Asbestos claims on a No Win No Fee basis. For a free consultation call freephone 0800 884 0275 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.

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