Asbestos in Blankets and Other Safety Equipment
Asbestos blankets were used in a number of industrial and military settings. These blankets were often used for preventing fire injuries; for example, if someone caught on fire in an industrial or military accident, an asbestos blanket could be thrown over the victim to put out the flames and mitigate burn injuries.
Asbestos exposure resulted when these blankets became worn and the asbestos lining released fibers into the immediate environment. In addition, individuals who worked in the factories producing asbestos blankets would have been exposed to high levels of asbestos contamination in the weaving process, as well as from working on or cleaning the machinery used to make the blankets.
Three types of asbestos were used commercially in the United States during most of the 20th century. The most common form was chrysotile, or "white asbestos." Mined primarily in Montana and Vermont, this form of the mineral accounted for approximately 97% of all asbestos used in commercial applications. Chrysotile asbestos is still mined in Quebec, China and Russia and white asbestos products are still manufactured in China, India and Mexico. In 2002, approximately 100,000 kilograms of white asbestos entered the U.S. in commercial goods from these countries.
Asbestos Blanket Products Containing Asbestos
The following partial list of asbestos blanket products were known to contain asbestos:
|Product Name||Start Year||End Year|
|Rock Wool Asbestos Blanket|
|Unarco Fibrous Glass Insulating Blankets|
Hazards Associated with Asbestos Blanket Products
While one-time exposure to an intact asbestos blanket used to put out a fire would not pose a significant risk of exposure to asbestos, individuals who worked in factories or installations where these blankets were used or stored may have potentially been exposed to a continual low-level amount of asbestos fibers and dust as the blankets were used or moved. In addition, workers who made the blankets or who disposed of old and worn blankets may have sustained had a higher level of exposure risk as well. Asbestos exposure has causal links to a serious form of cancer known as mesothelioma.
Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception: The Untold Story of Asbestos (New York: Touchstone, 2003)
N/A. "Asbestos Linked to Autoimmune Diseases." Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 113 (2004)