Unusual Uses of Asbestos

Asbestos Sample Testing 1

Although widely acknowledged as a hazardous building material, there has been a multitude of unusual uses of asbestos throughout its history. Some may have practical foundations, whereas others seem more sublime. This article explores the variety of uses of asbestos throughout the centuries.

Beauty

Asbestos has previously been used in several health and beauty products for a variety of reasons. The thought of using this material in any personal care product is now astonishing, but in previous decades asbestos was used as an abrasion material in toothpaste as well as a heat protection layer in old style hairdryers. Asbestos has also been known to be used in make up manufacturing and products as well as fibres being used in talcum powder.

Household Items

Because of it’s heat and fire protective properties, asbestos was widely used in household items throughout the centuries. Previous uses have included: heat protection elements in irons, fibres were manufactured into wallpaper and paper lining, telephones and toilet cisterns and small elements were used to produce bleach and other cleaning products.

From the 1930s, asbestos was used to make fake snow and this was introduced into many houses by way of Christmas decorations. The product was even used in scenes of The Wizard of Oz and Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’.

Asbestos was often used in flooring options by way of providing backing, under flooring or for products such as linoleum.

Again, because of its fire retardancy, asbestos was used as wall paint for a number of years. Believed to be an innovation in safe household decoration, asbestos was marketed as an excellent option for renovating tired walls.

“From the 1930s, asbestos was used to make fake snow and this was introduced into many houses by way of Christmas decorations.”

Cigarettes

One of the most unusual uses of asbestos – from the 1950s, cigarette manufacturers sought to develop their products and increase their safety, which brought about the inclusion of asbestos! Asbestos was used in the filters of masses of cigarettes and was praised for it’s revolutionary health benefits.

Medical

Asbestos thread was widely used by doctors by way of stitching patients after operations. Due to the flexibility and strength of the thread, this product was considered to be an excellent choice for the medical industry. Somewhat ironically, one of the prime surgerys that this thread would be used in was that of lung operations following World War 2.

Ornamental

The first known uses of asbestos date back to around 2500 BC, when the material was used in the production of clay. The clay was used to make wares for the home such as bowls and pots. This practice continued throughout all major civilisations and including the manufacture of ornamental pieces and utensils.

Fashion

One of the most famous examples of an unusual use of asbestos relates to a young Benjamin Franklin. At the age of 19, Franklin travelled to England and carried with him an asbestos purse. Whilst in England, he sold the purse to a collector of natural history objects, Sir Hans Sloane. Sloane’s collection was later donated to the British Museum and the purse still resides there.

Whatever your asbestos needs, get in touch with Acorn today. Call us on 0844 818 0895.

(Calls Cost 6p per minute + your normal phone providers charges)

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

Acorn School Site 26 e1634213147938

School holidays are the perfect time for asbestos surveys

When you think of the upcoming October half-term holiday, asbestos surveys and asbestos-related works might not be the first thing that spring to mind. Fortunately, many schools and colleges wisely choose to use their breaks to get on top of their asbestos issues by organising asbestos surveys or carrying out works which – without the … Read more

Acorn campaign targets asbestos in schools.

Asbestos in schools to be tackled by new Acorn campaign

This week we were proud to launch a hard-hitting campaign targeting the issue of asbestos in schools. If you read our blog last week you will know that more than 20 years after the UK banned the use of asbestos here, it’s estimated that a high percentage of our schools still contain the deadly substance. … Read more

Is the UK ignoring its problem with asbestos in schools?

Is the UK ignoring its problem with asbestos in schools?

Did you know that the UK has a significant problem with asbestos in schools? More than two decades since the use of asbestos was banned in the UK, it’s estimated that eight out of 10 of our schools still contain the deadly substance. Throughout the 20th century, asbestos was used frequently by our construction industry, … Read more

National Mesothelioma Awareness Day c5810986 e1632385966395

Raising awareness about mesothelioma

This Sunday, Americans, their federal departments and agencies and their media are being called upon to observe the annual US National Mesothelioma Awareness Day with ceremonies and activities. Back in 2010, September 26 was earmarked by the US Congress as a special day to raise the American public’s awareness about mesothelioma and to encourage all … Read more

worker 6544391 1920 e1631783205514

UK house builder becomes first to divert asbestos away from landfill

We’ve heard some fantastic news about asbestos in the UK during the past few days. Leading developer Lovell has become the first UK house builder to actively tackle the challenge of asbestos waste. The firm is collaborating with Wolverhampton-based Thermal Recycling to safely package and convert asbestos waste into a safe and reusable cement substitute. … Read more

road sign 4244285 1920 e1631178843233

Asbestos causes a headache for constructor and neighbouring businesses

Asbestos hit the headlines once again this week when it brought a construction project grinding to a halt, closed off a town centre road and disrupted nearby businesses. The Stoke Sentinel has published an article sharing the frustrations of businesses in Piccadilly Arcade in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, who were unable to access their parking spaces or … Read more

surgery 3034071 1920 e1630572942721

Looking after asbestos will help us all breathe more easily

Many people have lives filled with work and family and 101 other activities that take up our days. So, today we’d like you to do something for us – just pause for a second and take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Did you manage to do it? The average person takes … Read more

Acorn Samples 6 e1629960810872

Concerns raised about asbestos on British beach

Most of us love a seaside holiday but sadly one of Britain’s beaches hit the headlines last week for all the wrong reasons. You may remember that back in May we ran a blog on ‘Are holidaymakers in danger of finding asbestos on beaches?’ which highlighted a number of British beaches where asbestos had been … Read more

Acorn Jan 2020 Low Res 49 e1629361953760

Acorn receives the backing of major organisations

At Acorn Analytical Services we are very proud of the wide range of asbestos management and training services that we provide. We are proud to say we’re a fully independent and impartial company and that clients can be confident that the results and recommendations they receive from us will always be in their best interests. … Read more

building plan 354233 1920 e1628755740921

Will planning reform put more people at risk from asbestos?

There have been lots of concerns raised in the national press recently about new planning reforms which mean a wider range of commercial properties can now be converted into flats. The reforms came into force at the beginning of this month in a bid to regenerate city centres which have struggled during the pandemic. However, … Read more