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

Sam Savage Commercial Director

Commercial Director Sam Savage talks about his first 3 weeks

Last month we announced Sam Savage had joined Acorn Analytical Services as our Commercial Director, working out of the Northampton office and covering the South of England. Sam joins the business from an another asbestos consultancy where he worked for more than 20 years, working his way up from a trainee right through to contracts … Read more

Asbestos Awareness Training

Asbestos Awareness Training – the importance of practising what we preach

At Acorn, we work hard to educate everyone about the dangers of asbestos. One of the ways we do this is through our UKATA accredited Asbestos Awareness training courses. Being a UKATA Approved Training Provider not only demonstrates that Acorn Analytical Services is committed to delivering the highest standard of asbestos training, it also means … Read more

Have you ever wondered what the consequences could be if a company fails to protect workers from asbestos exposure?

Asbestos exposure risk leads to jail sentences

Have you ever wondered what the consequences could be if a company fails to protect workers from asbestos exposure? At Acorn, we work hard to educate the public about the dangers of asbestos which remains the world’s biggest workplace killer. When asbestos is disturbed it releases tiny fibres into the air which can cause a … Read more

MPs want asbestos to be removed from public and commercial buildings within the next 40 years.

MPs fight for asbestos to be removed from public buildings

Last week, MPs called for all asbestos to be removed from public and commercial buildings within the next 40 years. The Government’s Work and Pensions Select Committee wants the asbestos to be removed because the substance remains the biggest workplace killer in the UK with around 5,000 deaths linked to it every year. Even though … Read more

During Global Asbestos Awareness Week charities and organisations around the world will be working hard to raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos which remains the globe’s biggest workplace killer.

Hitting back at hidden killer during Global Asbestos Awareness Week 2022

Today marks the start of Global Asbestos Awareness Week. Between now and April 7, charities and organisations around the world will be working hard during Global Asbestos Awareness Week to raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos which remains the globe’s biggest workplace killer. In the UK, the use of asbestos was banned more than … Read more

Acorn Analytical Services is proud to be helping women to #BreakTheBias.

#BreakTheBias – International Women’s Day 2022

Today, Acorn is incredibly proud to be supporting International Women’s Day. The United Nations began marking the global event back in 1977 and the day is now recognised as the focal point in the movement for women’s rights. This year means a lot to our diverse team at Acorn because the theme for 2022 is … Read more

International Women's Day Emma

International Women’s Day 2022

To mark International Women’s Day, we wanted to introduce you to a couple of Acorn Analytical Service’s fantastic female employees. The asbestos industry – like the construction industry in general – is a male dominated sector but at Acorn we are fortunate to work with several brilliant female employees, including asbestos analysts, asbestos surveyors and … Read more

Do you ever stop to think about whether you could be exposed to asbestos in your home?

Workers exposed to asbestos during refurbishment

Do you ever stop to think about whether you could be exposed to asbestos in your home? During the 20th century asbestos was used heavily by the UK’s construction industry and even though its use has been banned for more than two decades its legacy lives on in our homes, garages, workplaces and public buildings. … Read more

Rare Disease Day is held every year on February 28 to raise awareness and generate change for the 300 million people worldwide living with a rare disease

Rare Disease Day 2022

Did you know that Rare Disease Day is taking place on Monday? Rare Disease Day is held every year on February 28 to raise awareness and generate change for the 300 million people worldwide living with a rare disease and for their families and carers. More than 600 events will be taking place across the … Read more

The Government’s Work and Pensions Committee has been carrying out an inquiry into the HSE's approach to asbestos management

Asbestos management inquiry held by Government

Over the past few months, the Government’s Work and Pensions Committee has been carrying out an inquiry into the approach of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to asbestos management in buildings. There are six million tonnes of asbestos in the UK, most of which can be found in more than 1.5 million buildings across … Read more