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Asbestos Consumer Products

The existence of asbestos in popular consumer products, not just during its heightened use in the 1900s, but still today, has caused much concern. Regulations have been put into place by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit use, but some goods are still allowed to contain the toxin if under 1%. Older asbestos-containing products are still in use today, and new consumer products continue to emerge, with consumers unknowingly using items that contain asbestos fibers, such as with hair dryers, crock pots and potting soils.

Asbestos and Consumer Products

Depending on its purpose, asbestos has been incorporated into products for a variety of different reasons. For items such as cigarette filters, paint, ironing board covers and rests, crock pots, stove mats and hair dryers, asbestos was, and in some cases still is, a cheap option for heat resistance and fireproofing. Oftentimes these goods were also produced overseas, unrestricted by United States’ regulations. Asbestos in plastics served a similar function, particularly for building materials and electrical components, such as phones and radios.

The presence of asbestos in fertilizer hasn’t been intentional, but instead contaminated the naturally occurring mineral vermiculite, a staple of fertilizing products. Drawing a huge amount of concern recent is the presence of asbestos in talcum powder, as many have regularly been using the product, unknowingly putting themselves and their families at risk, fueling concerns regarding asbestos in consumer goods.

  • Baby Powder
  • Cigarette Filters
  • Crock Pots
  • Fertilizer
  • Hair Dryers

The idea of utilizing asbestos for commercial use began in the 1880s, and reached peak use in consumer products during the mid 1900s. In 1964, the first link was found between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Intentional use began to decline, but as mentioned before, small amounts are still allowed and materials from the 1900s are still in use today.

Consumer Products and Asbestos Exposure Concerns

Anyone that has used these products in the past or that has come into contact with products contaminated with asbestos today could be at risk of exposure. There are also particular occupations that could put individuals at increased risk as they come into contact with asbestos-containing materials repeatedly over time.

Occupations with risk of asbestos exposure from consumer products:

  • Product manufacturers
  • Bakelite or plastic factory workers
  • Gardeners
  • Landscapers
  • Groundskeepers
  • Painters
  • Homemakers
  • Launderers and laundresses
  • Appliance repair personnel

For those that worked in manufacturing environments that used asbestos frequently, they should be aware of mesothelioma symptoms and seek medical attention immediately should any arise. For others, it’s important to be aware of materials that may contain the toxin, especially if they are damaged, leading to a potential release of fibers.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari
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Sources

Campbell R, Webber JS and Sato H. Asbestos in the United States. Management of Health Risks from Environment and Food. September 6, 2009;AGSB(16):127-166. doi: 10.1007/978-90-481-3028-3_5.

Gordon RE, Fitzgerald S and Millette J. Asbestos in commercial cosmetic talcum powder as a cause of mesothelioma in women. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. September 3, 2014;20(4):318-332. doi: 10.1179/2049396714Y.0000000081.

Musk B, Gordon L, Alfonso H, et al. Risk factors for malignant mesothelioma in people with no known exposure to asbestos. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. February 28, 2017;60(5):432-436. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22695.

Vallach G and Sherman CA. Mass-bestosis: Examining the American Asbestos Litigation Phenomenon. Journal of Business and Applied Sciences. 2014;3(2):14-16.