Asbestos is most commonly associated with the construction industry, but could there be asbestos in our everyday products that we don’t know about? Read on to find out.

Asbestos has become a dirty word since the late 90s, after it was banned in most countries for causing a host of lung conditions in those who were exposed to it. One of the most common lung conditions it causes is asbestosis, which can take 20 to 30 years to appear.

These days, many people are seeking asbestosis compensation after discovering they have it all these years later. Because of this, concerns about asbestos in day-to-day life may begin to increase.

In this post, we’re going to focus specifically on asbestos in consumer products, so you know which products might contain it. We’ll then discuss the ways you can limit your exposure to them. So, let’s dive right in…

What is Asbestos and What conditions Does it Cause?

Asbestos is a term for a group of minerals that contain microscopic fibres. When these minerals are disturbed, the tiny fibres of asbestos are released into the air and can be breathed into the lungs.

Before the world was aware of the conditions it caused, it was used widely in construction and consumer products, which can still contain asbestos to this day. If the buildings and products containing asbestos remain intact, they pose little risk. That said, any damage that makes them release their fibres could cause you to develop a lung condition if you’re exposed to them for a long time.

As we said in the intro to this post, it can take 20 to 30 years before you see any symptoms of asbestos-related lung conditions. So, if you believe you might have one, you should speak to your doctor for a diagnosis and claim compensation to help with the costs.

There are four main conditions associated with breathing in asbestos fibres that you should be aware of:

  • Asbestosis: a non-malignant scarring of the lung tissue.
  • Pleural effusion: excess fluid builds up between the chest wall and the lung, compressing the lungs and making breathing difficult.
  • Asbestos-related lung cancer: a form of cancer affecting the lungs themselves.
  • Mesothelioma: a form of cancer mainly affecting the lining of the lungs.

What Household and Consumer Products Still Contain Asbestos?

Now that we have an idea of what asbestos is and the conditions it causes, it’s time to look at the everyday household and consumer products that might contain asbestos.

1. Children’s Toys

Children are actually at a higher risk of contracting an asbestos-related condition than adults which they can develop before they reach the age of 20. This makes asbestos used in children’s toys that much more dangerous.

Asbestos was used as a binding agent in the manufacture of crayons in the form of talc. Independent tests found asbestos fibres in four out of 28 boxes of crayons that were tested, including brands like Crayola.

It isn’t only crayons that can contain asbestos as tests performed by the Environmental Working Group found traces of asbestos in children’s modelling clay as well. These traces of asbestos are quite small, and they aren’t dangerous unless the fibres are released. However, if a child puts these toys in their mouth, they run the risk of developing peritoneal mesothelioma which damages the lining of the abdomen.

2.  Old Books

If you’re into buying old books from the charity shop, scouting the shelves for a first edition of a book from the mid-1900’s perhaps, then you might be exposing yourself to asbestos. Many books bound between the 1950s and 2000 used asbestos because it’s flame retardant and would reduce the chance of the book catching fire.

In fact, two popular science fictions books, one of which was ‘Fahrenheit 451’, were found to have been bound with asbestos and they weren’t the first.

3.  Talcum Products

Talcum powder was used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, ceramics, chalk and other consumer products for many years. Because talc and asbestos are naturally close to each other on the earth’s surface, it’s easy for talcum powder to be contaminated with it.

There is still an ongoing debate amongst researchers as to the validity of this claim, but many of them consider talcum powder to be a cause of mesothelioma, lung cancer and ovarian cancer in women.

4.  Heaters

As we mentioned in the book binding section, asbestos is incredibly heat resistant. This made it perfect for internal insulation in domestic heater products.

Despite all heaters manufactured after the ban being asbestos free, those developed before are still out there and can still pose a risk. Many older style homes still have these heaters in them, so it’s a good idea to have them checked out before you turn them on.

5.  Toasters

Toasters manufactured in the asbestos-era of the 50s, 60s and 70s used the mineral for heat insulation of the heating elements and the cord. If you have an old toaster, or you’re planning on buying one to be part of the whole ‘retro’ clique, either think twice or have it tested before you toast your morning slices.

6.  Irons

Irons have to be a bit older to contain asbestos, as most of the contaminated ones manufactured in the early 1900s. If you somehow own, or are thinking of buying one of these irons, the asbestos minerals were used under the handles of the irons, and also to make iron rests.

7.  Hairdryers

Hairdryers, on the other hand, have a much greater chance of containing asbestos than toasters or irons, as they were still being manufactured using the mineral up until 1980. Not only that, the hairdryers blow asbestos directly into the user’s airways and end up in their lungs.

So, if you were a hairdresser between the 50s and 80s, there’s a good chance your hairdryer contained asbestos and you should have yourself tested for related conditions. Estimated figures revealed that up to 5 million asbestos-containing hand-held hairdryers were in circulation at one time from 11 leading brands.

How Can you Avoid Asbestos-Containing Products?

Before we end this post, we’re going to help you avoid these asbestos-containing products so you can limit your exposure.

As you can probably tell from the products listed above, all the ones that contain asbestos are old. If you have any of these products and they seem like they’re a bit outdated, look up the model number to see when it was manufactured.

If the product was manufactured somewhere between the mid-1900s and 2000, see if you can find out on the internet whether this product has been found to contain asbestos. If you can’t find any information, you can send a sample off for testing BUT ONLY if it has broken off itself. Do not break a piece off, or you could release fibres into the air. You can buy a testing kit yourself, but it has to be sent to a lab to be analysed properly.

Most of the time, the newer product models work better than the old ones anyway. So, if you want a retro toaster or an old book, just buy a modern retro version or a nice reprinting of the book instead.

Other products that might contain asbestos that aren’t listed in the above section are:

  • Gas ranges or oil lamps
  • Oven mitts
  • Dish towels
  • Potholders
  • Placemats
  • Electric blankets
  • Ironing board covers
  • Fire blankets
  • Fake snow
  • Anything with talcum powder in it

With asbestos being banned in most countries around the world, you should be fine as long as you buy any products after the year 2000.

Should You be Worried About These Products?

In this post, we’ve talked about what asbestos is and the conditions it can cause, as well as what products contain asbestos and why. We’ve then given you some helpful advice on how to avoid these products.

The best thing you can do is stay vigilant by checking your old products or just avoiding buying them altogether. The levels of asbestos in most of these products is minimal in the first place, and are only dangerous once they’re broken and fibres are released into the air.

The exception to this rule are hairdryers, which have been found to blow the fibres directly into your airways, talc in its powdered form, and children’s toys which can be ingested and cause other abdominal conditions.

Thank you for reading this post, and we hope you’ve learnt something new. Good luck keeping asbestos out of your life.s.

The best thing you can do is stay vigilant by checking your old products or just avoiding buying them altogether. The levels of asbestos in most of these products is minimal in the first place, and are only dangerous once they’re broken and fibres are released into the air.

The exception to this rule are hairdryers, which have been found to blow the fibres directly into your airways, talc in its powdered form, and children’s toys which can be ingested and cause other abdominal conditions.

Thank you for reading this post, and we hope you’ve learnt something new. Good luck keeping asbestos out of your life.