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Thinking of getting wrist deep in a home DIY project you saw on Pinterest? Still using an ancient appliance from your first apartment because it seems to be just as good as new? While many of us may have an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude, some of your best money saving ideas can pose a serious health risk. Within your home and other unexpected places like schools and appliances, asbestos, a carcinogen known to cause asbestosis and mesothelioma, can linger.
Asbestos was once used in more than 3,000 consumer products. As a well-known fire resistant and durable product, asbestos use was heavily regulated in the late 1970s after it was discovered to cause cancer. However, many buildings and products may still contain asbestos; here are 5 shocking places where asbestos can be found in your home:
If you’re using a crock pot handed down to you from who-knows-where, you may want to consider replacing it with a new model. Prior to regulations, crock pots used in the lining between the outer and inner pot to retain heat, as well as in the power cord to prevent electrical fires. Chrysotile, or white asbestos, was the most common of the six types of asbestos used in appliances. While exposure to chrysotile asbestos is less likely to cause cancer, it is still a toxic substance.
Around the late 1970s when asbestos was being regulated, a consumer report showed that many hair dryers manufactured domestically were emitting asbestos fibers. While at the time U.S. manufacturers agreed to discontinue the use of asbestos in their products, the manufacturing of almost all hair dryers has been outsourced to foreign manufacturers where the environmental regulations on asbestos are few or non-existent.
Another common household appliance that was found to contain asbestos is the popcorn popper. The devices use an electrical element that heats the air to pop the popcorn and, for some manufacturers, asbestos was used in the electrical element. Much like crock pots, asbestos may have also been used in the power cords as a heat insulator. Similar to hair dryers, popcorn poppers manufactured overseas could potentially still contain traces of asbestos in their product.
Baby powder contains talc. Talc is a mineral that is mined around the U.S. and was often found to have the presence of tremolite asbestos within it. While many domestic manufacturers have taken safety measures to prevent levels of tremolite in their mined talc to later be used for cosmetic products, foreign manufacturers tend to have less environmental regulations on asbestos use and allow contaminated products to enter the country.
When it comes to taking on a new DIY project at home, consider the age of your home if you’re pulling down sheetrock, lifting flooring, or removing a popcorn ceiling texture. Many older building materials contained asbestos for its durability. With asbestos fibers put into these products, the materials would last much longer. However, today with the link to mesothelioma cancer, a homeowner should consult the advice of a professional contractor or asbestos abatement company before potentially exposing oneself to this dangerous carcinogen during a renovation project.
There are many other places throughout your home where asbestos can be found hiding. Be sure to consider the year of your home or appliance that you’re inspecting for asbestos-containing parts, as well as where the materials were manufactured. Limiting your exposure risk to asbestos in your home can help prevent the chances of you or a loved one developing an asbestos-related disease later on in life.