Asbestos in Stove Mats and Other Household Products
Stove mats were similar to iron rests and ironing board covers. These were simple protective devices designed to be placed over the top of a hot burner in order to prevent damage to pots and pans from hot stoves, and also to protect counters and stovetops from hot pots and pans. They consisted of an asbestos cloth or canvas applied over a rigid material, often with an aluminum edge. The rigid material was often asbestos millboard, so the total quantity of asbestos in a stove mat was very high since it consisted essentially of asbestos wrapped around asbestos. Stove mats found wide use in kitchens, both in homes and in commercial kitchens and restaurants.
Asbestos stove mats were produced by a wide range of manufacturers under brand names like “Masonware”. They were manufactured from the early 20th century until around 1979.
Hazards Associated with Stove Mat Products
At risk for asbestos exposure were individuals working with stove mats in kitchens, particularly under high temperature conditions. Initially, the asbestos in stove mats was more-or-less intact and undisturbed. Over time, however, as the mats aged and began to wear down, they had the potential to release asbestos fibers into the air. These fibers could then be inhaled by people working in the kitchen, and may have also contaminated some of the food being prepared.
In addition, workers in the factories that manufactured asbestos cloth and asbestos millboard as well as the fabrication workers who pieced the asbestos stove mats together were also at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers.
Asbestos exposure can cause a number of different diseases from asbestosis to cancer such as mesothelioma. In 2005, research was published that linked long-term exposure to asbestos to auto-immune disease as well.Sources
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)