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Written By: Camryn Keeble

Asbestos-Containing Products and Materials

Asbestos was frequently used to construct and manufacture many products, materials and structures during the 20th century. Although asbestos is heavily regulated today, there is still the risk of exposure from repairing, replacing, or using outdated materials. It’s important to be aware of which items to avoid to prevent asbestos exposure and related health issues for yourself, your coworkers, your employees or your family members and friends.

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

Reviewed By

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

VA-Accredited Claims Agent

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Important Facts About Asbestos-Containing Products and Materials

  • Asbestos-containing products and materials describe any products or materials with any detectable levels of asbestos
  • The construction and manufacturing industries are largely responsible for the production and distribution of most asbestos-containing products and materials, but there are several other industries that also produced asbestos products.
  • There are strict regulations on asbestos today, but it is important to know how asbestos may have been used or where asbestos may still be hiding in homes, offices, plants and other settings. Many Americans were and still are at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease due to asbestos exposure from certain products and materials.

About Asbestos-Containing Products and Materials 

The U.S. Department of Labor defines an asbestos-containing material (ACM) as any material containing more than 1% of asbestos. Meanwhile, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) states there is no “safe” level of asbestos exposure. 

Asbestos-containing materials are responsible for asbestos exposure and asbestos-related diseases. The disturbance of asbestos-containing materials often causes microscopic asbestos fibers to pollute the air or environment. Any amount of asbestos exposure can have serious health consequences, such as the development of a rare cancer called mesothelioma. This aggressive cancer develops in the thin lining around the lungs, abdominal cavity and heart. 

Although there are strict regulations on the use of asbestos today, there is still a risk of exposure due to legacy asbestos, which is asbestos in old materials or products.  

List of Asbestos-Containing Products and Materials

There are numerous asbestos-containing materials to be aware of. The most common materials known to contain asbestos were often used in construction and industrial settings, such as asbestos insulation for hot pipes or furnaces or asbestos in drywall joint compound mixtures. 

Asbestos-containing materials can be found in your home, automobile, office and even certain consumer products, such as those consisting of talc.

There are over 3,000 products and materials potentially containing asbestos. MesotheliomaGuide has compiled an extensive list of asbestos-containing products and materials. If you have questions regarding your asbestos exposure, contact our patient advocates for more information. We can connect you with experts in asbestos exposure. 

Commonly used asbestos-containing materials: 

  • Flooring materials
  • Insulation materials 
  • Piping materials
  • Gaskets and packing
  • Pumps
  • Valves
  • Boilers and water heaters 
  • Popcorn ceilings and ceiling tiles
  • Drywall materials and joint compounds
  • Cement 
  • Furnaces and ovens
  • Roofing products
  • Electrical equipment
  • Grinding wheels
  • Resins
  • Steam traps
  • Fertilizer soil
  • Coffee pots
  • Crockpots
  • Ovens
  • Toasters
  • Televisions
  • Freezers
  • Refrigerators
  • Fireplaces, wood-burning stoves and chimneys
  • Car and truck brakes, clutches, gaskets, engines and body parts
  • Light bulbs, light fixtures and fragrance dispensers 
  • Hair dryers and clothes dryers
  • Crayons and children’s toys
  • Kent micronite cigarettes 
  • Baby powders and various talc-based products 
  • Irons and ironing board covers
  • Ceramics and kiln products

Asbestos-Containing Materials Used in the Construction of Homes, Offices and Other Buildings

Asbestos-containing materials were most common in the construction industry to build durable and fire-resistant homes, offices and other buildings. Asbestos was often incorporated into various building components, such as flooring, insulation, ceilings, drywall and more.  

Asbestos Flooring Materials Icon

Asbestos Flooring Materials

Vinyl flooring is an affordable synthetic flooring material used in many homes, offices, schools and commercial buildings. It was known to contain asbestos between 1960 and 1980. The mineral was added to the manufacturing process to support the floor’s durability. 

A study published in the National Library of Medicine analyzed the risk of asbestos exposure from vinyl flooring in various simulations. From the simulations, the researchers found that the breakage and abrasion of vinyl flooring releases asbestos fibers. 

The danger of asbestos in vinyl flooring is when the flooring is replaced, repaired, or damaged. Disturbance to the asbestos fibers within the flooring tiles can cause tiny toxic particles to infiltrate the air. 

Flooring adhesives were also once known to contain asbestos, specifically “black asbestos mastic,” which was often used to install ceramic tile, linoleum, carpet, hardwood and other types of flooring. 

Manufacturers of Black Mastic Asbestos include:

  • American Biltrite
  • National Gypsum Company
  • Amtico Floors
  • A.P. Green Industries
  • Armstrong World Industries
  • Asbestos Corporation, Ltd.
  • Celotex Corporation
  • Crown Cork and Seal
  • Congoleum Corporation
  • GAF Corporation
  • Johns Manville
  • Mobile Oil Corporation
  • 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company)

Prominent brands of asbestos-laced floor adhesive include:

  • Armstrong S-89 Adhesive
  • Armstrong S-90 Adhesive
  • Atlas Stove & Furnace Cement
  • Carey Fibrous Adhesive
  • Empire Ace Fibrous Adhesives
  • J-M Fibrous Adhesive Cement
  • Crown Coat Cement
  • Gold Bond Laminating Adhesive

Manufacturers of asbestos flooring materials:

  • American Biltrite
  • Amtico Floors
  • Armstrong World Industries
  • Congoleum Corporation
  • Everwear Inc.
  • GAF Corporation
  • Johns-Manville
  • Kentile Floors
  • Montgomery Ward
  • Sears-Roebuck
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Asbestos Insulation Materials

Asbestos was used quite often due to its insulation properties, which means it provides resistance to heat flow and lowers the heating and cooling costs in a building. Asbestos was a key component of most insulation materials for a long time. The material is also resistant to electrical currents and chemical corrosion.

Multiple types of insulation once contained asbestos, including: 

  • Blanket (wrapped) insulationAlso known as pipe covering or pipe lagging; used to conceal pipe coverings and plumbing; known to have had a heavy presence on Navy ships
  • Spray-on insulation – Often used in commercial buildings and looked like a thick layer of gray material on the structural steel beams on the ceilings 
  • Loose-fill insulation Fluffy appearance and known as “asbestos attic insulation” commonly installed to lay on the attic’s floor 
  • Block insulation Looks like wooden boards or blocks that were placed on the outside of heated structures like boilers and ovens

The strong presence of asbestos in insulation materials poses a risk of asbestos exposure for insulation workers and anyone else working near the materials. 

Some of the known asbestos insulation manufacturers were: 

  • Armstrong Contracting and Supply
  • Rock Wool Manufacturing
  • CertainTeed Corporation
  • Western MacArthur
  • Crown Cork and Seal
  • C.E. Thurston & Sons
  • EaglePicher
  • Ehret Magnesia
  • GAF Corporation
  • Johns-Manville
  • Kaiser Aluminum
  • Keasbey & Mattison
  • National Gypsum
  • Nicolet
  • Owens Corning
  • Owens-Illinois
  • A.P. Green Industries
  • Pacor Incorporated
  • Pittsburgh Corning
  • Celotex
  • Shook & Fletcher
  • The Flintkote Company
  • Unarco
  • W.R. Grace
  • Combustion Engineering

Vermiculite Insulation

Vermiculite insulation is a type of loose-fill insulation with a pebble-like appearance and a grayish-brown color. It is the most commonly used asbestos-containing insulation. Vermiculite is a natural mineral often contaminated with the toxic substance. The infamous vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana, is the primary source of asbestos-containing vermiculite insulation. 

Pipe Insulation

Pipe insulation is a type of blanket or wrapped insulation. It is usually fully wrapped around pipes with an outer casing to secure the insulation. Pipe insulation looks like corrugated cardboard with an off-white or gray color. The corrugated edge of the pipe insulation is usually a sign that the insulation does, in fact, contain asbestos.

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Asbestos Cement Products

Asbestos cement products are among the most common asbestos-containing materials, and the cement industry once consumed 70% of the world’s asbestos production. It is often made with chrysotile asbestos, Portland cement, water and sometimes silica flour. The cement hydrates and sets around the asbestos fibers, which act as reinforcement. The final cement compound would be approximately 15% asbestos. 

Asbestos cement products include: 

  • Roofing shingles
  • Pipe insulating cement
  • Cement flooring
  • Roofing sheets
  • Wall sheets
  • HVAC ducts
  • Water tanks
  • Chimneys
  • Pipes (waterworks, drainage, sewage, industrial processing)

Due to the wide range of asbestos cement products and levels of asbestos within these products, anyone working with asbestos-containing cement products is at risk of exposure.

There are several occupations that work closely with various asbestos cement products including but not limited to:

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Asbestos in Ceilings

Popcorn ceilings are the most common form of asbestos in ceilings. They were introduced to the U.S. between the 1920s and 1930s and became a popular feature in American homes, apartments and school buildings until the 1990s, although asbestos was mostly phased out of the product by 1980. 

The term “popcorn ceiling” was coined from the ceiling style’s finished appearance resembling popcorn kernels. This style was attractive to builders because of the affordable price tag, simple spray-on application process and ease of concealing imperfections. 

However, asbestos was a popular component of popcorn ceilings. Over time, the deadly effects of asbestos exposure became more known and regulatory agencies implemented laws limiting asbestos in the United States. The use of popcorn ceilings has significantly declined since the 1990s, but homes built before then most likely have this ceiling style in their home.

Ceiling tiles may also contain asbestos – especially if they were installed before 1980. Most old asbestos ceiling tiles are white and textured with small dotted indentations.

Asbestos in Drywall Products and Joint Compounds Icon

Asbestos in Drywall Products and Joint Compounds

Drywall is a flat panel made of gypsum plaster placed between two sheets of thick paper. It is attached to metal or wood studs using nails or screws. Drywall is installed on interior walls or ceilings in offices, homes, schools, hospitals, government buildings, entertainment venues and more as it is essential to the buildings’ structure.

Sheetrock is a term often used interchangeably with drywall. It is a brand of drywall produced by the United States Gypsum Company, or USG. There are other types of asbestos-containing drywall, but sheetrock is one of the most common.

Asbestos was often used in drywall mud and joint compounds to reduce heat, protect drywall from heat damage, and potentially slow the spread of a fire in a building. Asbestos in joint compounds was also used as a binding agent. Asbestos could preserve drywall panels for many years, avoiding repair or replacement. Asbestos was often incorporated into joint compounds, which is mud-like material used to fill the seams between drywall panels.

Drywallers are at risk of asbestos exposure due to the levels of asbestos in the products they use at work every day. They often lacked proper personal protective equipment while handling drywall and joint compounds, especially during the mixing and sanding processes, which produced a significant amount of asbestos dust. 

The following drywall companies are just a few of those responsible for manufacturing asbestos-containing materials:

  • Bestwall-Gypsum Company
  • Hamilton Materials, Inc.
  • Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc.
  • Kelly-Moore Paint Company
  • National Gypsum Company
  • Synkoloid Company
  • American Biltrite
  • Amtico Floors
  • Armstrong World Industries
  • Kentile Floors
  • Montgomery Ward
  • Triko
  • Sears-Roebuck
Asbestos in Boilers Icon

Asbestos in Boilers

Boiler rooms, also called fire rooms, were part of military ships. These rooms were utilized to boil water before transferring it to the adjacent engine room to power the ship. Boilers require high temperatures, which is why asbestos was present.

The asbestos was used to insulate boilers and protect workers from getting burned if they accidentally touched the boiler. The asbestos insulation also trapped the heat inside the boiler, keeping boiler rooms at cooler temperatures and also allowing the boiler to function more efficiently.

Large, several-stories-tall boilers were also present in every plant, refinery and other industrial sites. Smaller, package boilers were often used to heat buildings such as offices, hospitals, schools and homes.

In one study published in the International Journal of Radiation Biology, boiler technicians were mentioned as facing a high risk of exposure. Another scientific journal article states pipe and boiler insulation contains more asbestos than any other building material.

Boilers contained asbestos in various capacities, such as: 

  • Insulation – Walls and pipes of boilers were surrounded by asbestos insulation
  • Gaskets and packing – Around the handholes and manholes provided for access and inspection
  • Cement and paper – Inside lining of the stove doors
  • Raw asbestos Filler for holes
  • Sealants and tapes – Joints between pipes

Companies that manufactured asbestos-containing boilers include:

  • American Standard, Inc.
  • A.O. Smith
  • Aqua-Chem, Inc.
  • Babcock & Wilcox
  • Cleaver-Brooks
  • Foster Wheeler
  • Crane Co.
  • Dunkirk Boilers
  • Riley Stoker Corporation
  • Combustion Engineering
  • Henry Vogt Machine Co.
  • Kewanee Boiler Manufacturing Inc.
  • Parsons
  • Weil-McLain
  • Zurn Industries, Inc.
  • Burnham Boilers
  • Lennox
  • York-Shipley
  • Trane
  • Kohler
  • Bigelow
  • Kisco
  • Superior
  • Fulton
  • Dunham Bush
  • Pacific
Asbestos in Water Heaters Icon

Asbestos in Water Heaters

Water heaters are common in residential homes to produce hot water for bathing, cooking, and cleaning. Asbestos was often incorporated into water heaters as an insulator and could be found in insulation, reinforced plastics, insulating boards, gaskets and wiring within water heaters.

Companies that manufactured water heaters include:

  • American Standard, Inc.
  • Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company
  • U. S. Mineral Products Corporation
  • Aqua-Chem, Inc.
  • Columbia Boiler Company
  • Combustion Engineering
  • Crane Co.
  • Riley Stoker Corporation
  • Foster-Wheeler Corporation
  • Henry Vogt Machine Co.
  • Parsons
  • Weil-McLain
  • Zurn Industries, Inc.
  • Kewanee Boiler Corporation
  • Babcock and Wilcox Company
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Find out where you may have been exposed to asbestos

A nation wide list of sites where you or a loved one may have come in contact with asbestos.

Asbestos-Containing Materials in Automobiles and Trucks

Automotive brakes, clutches and other parts often include chrysotile asbestos, which means anyone who repairs or installs these parts could be at risk of exposure. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says, as a safe practice, mechanics should assume every vehicle built before the 1990s contains asbestos. According to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, chrysotile asbestos has been used in automotive friction applications since the 1940s.

Asbestos was most commonly used in brake applications due to the frequency of friction and pressure applied to the brakes to slow or stop a vehicle. Asbestos has also been reported in clutches, gaskets, certain automobile body parts, heavy duty engines and hood liners. 

Asbestos-containing gaskets in automobiles:

  • Dana Corp.’s Victor
  • Goodyear
  • General Gasket
  • Caterpillar

Asbestos-containing clutches in automobiles:

  • Borg-Warner
  • Dana Corp.’s Spicer

Asbestos-containing engines in heavy duty vehicles:

  • Caterpillar
  • Cummins

Automobile mechanics faced a high risk of asbestos exposure during the 20th century, and there is still a risk of exposure today from older vehicles with asbestos-containing parts. 

Asbestos in Automobile and Truck Brakes Icon

Asbestos in Automobile and Truck Brakes

Automobile brakes function due to heavy friction. In order to stop or slow down a vehicle, the brake pedal is pushed, which causes the brake pad to squeeze and cause friction to the rotating brake disc. The friction on the brake components can create heat and potential fire hazards. Asbestos was often used in brake components in automobiles to control the heat produced during the braking process. 

Installing new asbestos-containing brakes creates a risk of asbestos exposure. This process usually involves sanding or grinding the brakes to ensure a good fit. The sanding process disturbs the asbestos and sends asbestos dust into the air. Loose asbestos fibers can then enter the mechanic’s body, leading to cancer.

Mechanics used to manipulate new brake shoes so they would fit an automobile’s old drum that may have become dented or otherwise not perfectly round from time and use. Occupational mechanics used “brake lathes” to grind the brake shoe, and the asbestos in the shoe would be very friable.

Removing old brakes also creates a risk of asbestos exposure. When automobile repair workers remove brakes, they will first blow out the dust created from the heat and pressure of applying the brakes when driving. During the blowout process, loose chrysotile asbestos fibers enter the air. This does not only affect the person blowing out the toxic dust, but it can also expose anyone in close proximity to asbestos. 

Asbestos-containing brakes in automobiles and heavy duty vehicles:

  • Ford’s Motorcraft
  • General Motors’s Delco
  • Chrysler’s Mopar
  • Raybestos
  • American Brake Shoe’s Abex
  • Allied Signal’s/Honeywell’s Bendix
  • NAPA
  • Kelsey Hayes
  • Eaton
  • Carlisle
  • Dana Corp.’s Grizzly
  • Firestone’s Worldbestos
  • Rockwell
  • Wagner

The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM) cites a report from General Motors Corporation, which found 90,000 unaltered chrysotile asbestos fibers in a single nanogram of brake dust. UWM also cites a study reporting “measurable concentrations of asbestos” up to 75 feet from the location of the dust blowout.

During the 20th century, nearly every automobile on the market contained asbestos in various capacities. As the EPA states, mechanics should assume every car built before the 1990s contains asbestos.

However, there are reports of Japanese automakers using asbestos in their vehicles until 2005. The manufacturers include:

  • Suzuki Motor Corp. 
  • Nissan Motor Co. 
  • Toyota Motor Corp. 
  • Mitsubishi Motors Corp. 
  • Hino Motors Ltd. 
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Asbestos-Containing Materials in Appliances

Home and kitchen appliances, along with asbestos, rose in popularity around the same time. Both revolutionized housekeeping, making the process less labor-intensive. Unfortunately, many common home appliances contained asbestos. 

Many appliances were manufactured with asbestos-containing materials and could still exist in older homes or antique shops. Asbestos was commonly used in gaskets, electrical wiring, rubber, linings and fire protection components.

Appliances reported to contain asbestos most often had asbestos hidden within the appliance’s structure. The most common use of asbestos in the kitchen was in the wires around cables for electronic appliances.

There are strict regulations on the use of asbestos today, so it is unlikely that new appliances contain any form of asbestos. However, the risk comes from older homes or vintage appliances. 

Asbestos in Kitchen Appliances Icon

Asbestos in Kitchen Appliances

Various kitchen appliances during the 20th century were made with asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos was a known insulator, which is why it was used so often. It prevented fires and overheating. 

The most common appliances known to contain asbestos were heating elements. There is evidence of asbestos-containing materials in the following:

  • Coffee pots – Electrical insulation 
  • Crockpots Electrical insulation 
  • Ovens – Electrical insulation 
  • Popcorn poppers Electrical insulation 
  • Stoves Electrical insulation, millboard, gaskets, stove top pads

Asbestos was typically used as an electrical insulator in appliances. In most cases, these appliances will not release asbestos when used, as it was usually sealed within the appliance. However, asbestos could deteriorate with use over time.

The asbestos-containing materials used to manufacture these appliances often included: 

  • Asbestos electrical insulation
  • Asbestos insulation linings

The danger of incorporating asbestos into electrical wiring is the risk of wear and tear on the wiring, which could release asbestos dust. This can expose anyone who approaches the appliance.

The main risk is when these products are disassembled or replaced, which can disturb the asbestos and release hazardous dust into the air. Home renovations and demolitions often disturb asbestos, especially in old homes, and a lot of the disturbance occurs due to appliances.

Stoves and Toasters 

Stoves and toasters are common kitchen appliances used to heat food. Due to the high temperatures required to warm and toast food, asbestos-containing materials were once incorporated into these items. 

Stoves are hot appliances and require insulation in nearly every component to prevent fires and overheating. Asbestos-containing materials could be found in various components of stoves, such as:

  • Asbestos electrical insulation 
  • Asbestos millboard
  • Asbestos gaskets 

Stovetop pads were common accessories that accompanied kitchen stoves. The stove top pads protected the stove or countertop from hot pans or dishes fresh out of the oven. Asbestos cloth or textiles were used as the main fabric to keep the stove top pads from burning or catching fire. 

Moffatt was the primary manufacturer of asbestos-containing stoves during the 20th century. The stoves produced by the company today no longer contain asbestos, but older models might. 

Asbestos was widely used to manufacture toasters. The substance was often found in various forms, such as electrical wire insulation, toaster side insulation and heating element carriers, beginning around 1910 until the 1970s, with some reports in the mid-1980s.

Toaster brands with asbestos-containing materials include:

  • Westinghouse Turnover Toaster with Etched Doors
  • Marion Giant Flip Flop Toaster
  • Sunbeam Model T-20 Automatic Toaster

Companies that manufactured toasters containing asbestos:

  • Cleva North America
  • Conair Corporation
  • Danby Appliances Inc.
  • Parkinson Cowan
  • General Electric
Asbestos in Fireplaces, Wood-Burning Stoves and Chimneys Icon

Asbestos in Fireplaces, Wood-Burning Stoves and Chimneys

Fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, and chimneys were once manufactured with asbestos-containing materials. Due to the high temperatures sustained by fireplaces and similar appliances, asbestos was incorporated for insulation purposes and to prevent fires from leaving the contained space. Each was a common feature in many American homes during the 20th century. 

Various components of fireplaces, wood-burning stoves and chimneys were asbestos-containing materials, such as:

  • Asbestos cement – A material commonly used to patch chimneys
  • Chimney flues – The vertical duct that allows gas and smoke to exit the home safely; the lining of the duct may be insulated with asbestos 
  • Decorations – Artificial ash, embers and logs, used to fill fireplaces and similar appliances for aesthetic purposes, were often made with asbestos to resemble authentic ashes (asbestos dust) and wood
  • Stove gaskets – The seal around the inside of the wood-burning stove door to prevent air leaks; often made with asbestos insulation to prevent fires
  • Wood-burning stove Pads and trivets placed on top often contained asbestos for insulation purposes 
Irons and Ironing Boards Icon

Irons and Ironing Boards

Asbestos-containing materials were once added to the handles of older irons, which were heated by the stove. The use of asbestos in the iron’s Bakelite handle provided insulation and prevented anyone from using the iron from burning their hand. 

A newer version of the iron later became electric, which required electrical insulation. Asbestos was also used as an insulator in electric irons during the 1950s. 

Companies responsible for manufacturing asbestos-containing irons:

  • Craftmade Products Company
  • Hotpoint
  • General Electric
  • American Electrical Heater
  • Sunbeam
  • Universal
  • American Beauty
  • General Mills

Ironing boards were also common in American homes. The irons produce heat, while the ironing board sustains most of the heat. For proper functionality, an insulation material must be between the iron and the steel ironing board. Due to the high temperatures produced by the iron, the board covers often contained asbestos cloth. 

Although both of these household items once contained asbestos, the asbestos fibers were sealed into the iron and board cover. This means everyday use of these materials likely did not result in asbestos exposure. However, if these materials were old and deteriorating, loose asbestos fibers could have attached the clothes and skin or contaminated the air in the home.   

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Light Bulbs, Light Fixtures and Fragrance Dispensers

Classic incandescent light bulbs work by heating a wire filament within the bulb to a high enough temperature that produces light. Due to the heating element in light bulbs, asbestos-containing materials, such as electrical insulation, were incorporated into the manufacturing process. Asbestos was used as an insulated coating among other elements within the lamp or bulb, such as some in-bulb mountants or insulators and asbestos-coated foil. 

Some household lamps and light bulbs contained asbestos components, but they were typically sealed within the bulb or base. Certain specialty light bulbs also contained asbestos, such as those used to detect specific elements and chemicals. High-temperature resistant light bulbs contained asbestos – sometimes on the exterior – to sustain extreme heat in ovens, toasters or similar heating appliances. 

There are reports of asbestos in old light-bulb-activated fragrance dispensing systems, such as perfume dispensers, room deodorizers, and vaporizers used to treat common colds. In some cases, asbestos can be found on the exterior of the bulb. Asbestos-based blotting paper may have been used on the outside of an ordinary light bulb during the 20th century before the common use of electrical elements.  

Due to the regulations on asbestos, light bulbs and other light fixtures no longer contain asbestos. This can also be attributed to the shift from incandescent light bulbs to fluorescent or LED light bulbs. The danger comes from asbestos in old light bulbs and similar features. 

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Hair Dryers and Clothes Dryers

In 1979, different versions of hair dryers were voluntarily recalled by several manufacturers after the heat shields in the hair dryers began releasing asbestos fibers during use. The manufacturers of the hair dryers cooperated with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and either discontinued the production and distribution of all defective hair dryers or replaced the defective part.

Although the corporations responsible for the asbestos in hair dryers addressed the issue, it did not prevent asbestos exposure for anyone who experienced the hair dryer spew asbestos dust into their hair and on their clothes.

Hair dryers once known to contain asbestos included handheld dryers created for personal use, as well as the large hood-type dryers used in hair salons. This led to a risk of asbestos exposure for hairdressers and stylists. Even though hair dryers with asbestos were recalled decades ago, it is important to know which ones were recalled in case you or someone you know may have been exposed to the cancer-causing substance by using a certain hair dryer.

Companies that recalled asbestos-containing hair dryers in 1979 include:

  • Andis Company
  • Conair Corp.
  • General Electric Co. 
  • Gillette Co. 
  • Korvettes, Inc.
  • Montgomery Ward
  • National Presto Industries, Inc. 
  • North American Philips Corp. (Norelco)
  • J.C. Penney Co. 
  • Sears, Roebuck & Co. 
  • Scovill Manufacturing Co. (Hamilton Beach and Dominion)

Clothes drying machines also once had traces of asbestos in some parts of the machine but were not likely to release asbestos dust during use. The common uses of asbestos in dryers during the 20th century were in the dryer belt, electrical insulation and dryer felt (which seals the drying drum to the machine).

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Asbestos-Containing Materials in Consumer Products 

Construction materials and manufacturing machinery were not the only sectors to contain asbestos. There were numerous consumer products known to contain asbestos which have led to health problems for anyone who used them. 

It’s important to know which products once contained asbestos to know if you or someone you know is at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease, such as lung cancer or mesothelioma. 

Asbestos in Cloth and Textiles Icon

Asbestos in Cloth and Textiles

During the 20th century, asbestos was woven into cloth to enhance the material, making it fireproof and an ideal choice for heavy-duty and protective clothing. At its peak, asbestos fabric was believed to be nearly invincible. 

Asbestos cloths were primarily used for heavy-duty uniforms for those working jobs involving high temperatures or risk of fire. Firefighters’ uniforms were made with asbestos to protect them from flames and extreme temperatures while at work. Aviators flying aircraft and race car drivers also wore asbestos-sewn uniforms to protect them from fire in the event of a crash. 

Factory workers also wore asbestos garments, such as coats, gloves and aprons to protect themselves from high temperatures in certain work areas of the factory or shop. 

Asbestos in Kent Micronite Cigarettes Icon

Asbestos in Kent Micronite Cigarettes

Kent, an American cigarette brand, manufactured cigarettes with a micronite filter during the 1950s. However, the micronite filter reportedly contained crocidolite asbestos until at least 1956. 

In an article published by the American Association for Cancer Research, experts studied brand new, unopened packs of cigarettes produced and distributed by Kent during the 1950s. The study reported finding approximately 10 milligrams of crocidolite asbestos in one cigarette filter.

Asbestos fibers were detected in the smoke from the first two puffs of each cigarette. At these reported rates, anyone smoking a pack of Kent Micronite cigarettes a day would inhale more than 131 million asbestos fibers in one year – that’s over 350,000 asbestos fibers in one day.

Fortunately, these cigarettes are no longer on the market; however, consumers who purchased and used these cigarettes while they were on the market – or who bought them in resale after they were pulled from the market – are not safe from mesothelioma or asbestos diseases. Also at risk are any friends or family members who were around people who used Kent Micronite cigarettes and had secondhand smoke exposure.

Asbestos in Talc-Based Products Icon

Asbestos in Talc-Based Products

Talc is a naturally-occurring mineral, similar to asbestos, and the two minerals often form near each other in the earth. Due to their close proximity, asbestos and talc often mix together. Talc is otherwise a clean mineral, but when it is contaminated with asbestos, it becomes just as dangerous.

In 1976, the New York Times reported that Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City tested 19 talc-based products for asbestos contamination. The results showed 10 out of the 19 body and baby powders contained asbestos. The researchers were even able to determine the asbestos fibers were mixed in with the talcum powder. 

The 10 brand-name products contaminated with asbestos in this early study were:

  • ZBT Baby Powder with Baby Oil
  • Cashmere Bouquet Body Talc
  • Coty Airspun Face Powder
  • Rosemary Talc
  • Bauer & Black Baby Talc
  • Faberge Brut Talc
  • Yardley Invisible Talc
  • Yardley Black Label Baby Powder
  • Mennen Shave Talc
  • English Leather After-Shave Talc

Using talc to make cosmetics was standard practice for nearly the entire 20th century. In the 1990s, the FDA requested manufacturers to stop using talc for these products due to health concerns. However, many corporations continued producing and distributing talc-based products despite the request. 

Numerous consumer products, cosmetic products and hygienic products still use talc as a main ingredient. According to various online sources and published news articles, asbestos-contaminated talc-based products include:

  • Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder
  • Walgreens Aspirin 81
  • Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower Powder
  • Talcum powder used in barbershops (to reduce irritation on the neck or face)
  • Centrum Multivitamins and other supplements
  • Chanel after-shower health and beauty powders
  • Avon powder products
  • Chewing gum
  • Food processing
  • Surgical gloves
  • Condoms
  • Degree Men Antiperspirant and Deodorant
  • Various cosmetics (lipstick, mascara, face powder, blush, eye shadow or even children’s makeup)

Certain corporations have adjusted their product formulas to exclude talc and incorporate an alternative, such as cornstarch. Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, specifically, changed its formula and created a new brand of cornstarch-based baby powder. This adjustment did not come easily, as the company has been at the center of asbestos-contaminated talc litigation for nearly two decades. 

Despite the change in select product formulas, talc is still a primary ingredient in many products on the market. The New York Times reports that brands may refer to talc as:

  • Talcum
  • Talcum powder
  • Cosmetic talc
  • Magnesium silicate

Asbestos in Claire’s Cosmetic Products

Claire’s is an American accessory, jewelry, makeup and toy retailer. Claire’s is mostly known for its wide selection of fashion accessories and ear piercing counter. The retail company advertises to children and teenage girls, promoting its trendy styles and newest accessories. 

The company also creates makeup products for its target audience, which is mostly young girls. However, several of Claire’s makeup products tested positive for asbestos. 

In 2019, the FDA published a report warning consumers to avoid certain Claire’s cosmetic products due to asbestos contamination through talc: 

  • Beauty Plus Global Inc. City Color Collection Matte Blush (Fuchsia), SKU #849136008807, Lot No. 1605020/PD-840
  • Beauty Plus Global Inc. City Color Cosmetics Timeless Beauty Palette, SKU #849136012958, Lot No. 1510068/PD-C864R
  • Beauty Plus Global Inc. City Color Bronzer (Sunset), SKU #849136016017, Lot No. 160634/PD-P712M
  • Beauty Plus Global Inc. Beauty Plus Global Inc. City Color Shimmer Bronzer (Caramel), SKU #849136017106, Lot No. 1612112/PD-840
  • Beauty Plus Global Contour Effects Palette 2, Batch No. S1603002/PD-C1179
  • Claire’s JoJo Siwa Makeup Set, SKU #888711136337, Batch/Lot No. S180109
  • Claire’s Eye Shadows – Batch No/Lot No: 08/17
  • Claire’s Compact Powder – Batch No/Lot No: 07/15
  • Claire’s Contour Palette – Batch No/Lot No: 04/17
Asbestos in Crayons and Toys Icon

Asbestos in Crayons and Toys

Crayons on certain children’s toys are likely among the most unsuspecting asbestos-containing products. According to an article published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a study commissioned by the EWG Action Fund tested 28 boxes of crayons and 21 children’s crime scene fingerprint kits for asbestos. Of the several toys tested, four crayon brands and two of the crime scene kits tested positive for asbestos. 

All of the contaminated products were manufactured in China and imported to the U.S., and several were licensed by popular kids’ television networks, such as Disney and Nickelodeon. 

The brands of crayons and toys found to contain asbestos:

  • Amscan Crayons
  • Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Crayons
  • Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons
  • Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce Crayons
  • EduScience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit
  • Inside Intelligence Secret Spy Kit

Manufacturers of these products:

  • Crayola, LLC
  • National Tinsel Manufacturing Company

According to Crayola, the average American child will wear down nearly 730 crayons by age 10. The corporation was completely aware of its product’s popularity and use by young children, yet it still created products containing asbestos. 

These findings were exposed in recent years – decades after the strict regulations began on using asbestos. The corporations responsible for these products likely knowingly included asbestos and maliciously made them for children.

Asbestos in Potting Soil Icon

Asbestos in Potting Soil

Potting soil is a common household product used for gardening. It’s a mixture of mosses, fertilizers, fibers and minerals. Although it lacks natural soil or dirt, it has been used by at-home gardeners for decades. One of the key ingredients in typical potting soil is vermiculite, which was infamously contaminated with asbestos during the 20th century.

The vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana, is one of the most significant examples of environmental asbestos exposure. The asbestos-contaminated vermiculite from Libby was distributed around the world. At one point, the Libby mine was responsible for producing 80% of the world’s vermiculite.

This disaster caused nearly all vermiculite minerals to be tainted with asbestos, which means most products and materials made with vermiculite during the 20th century also contained asbestos. Potting soil, like many other products and materials, was not exempt from asbestos contamination.

According to a study by the EPA, low levels of asbestos were detected in pre-mixed potting soils. The majority of asbestos was found in a vermiculite product sold separately from the soil, often used as a soil conditioner or softener. 

History of Asbestos Use 

Asbestos was a commonly used material in various applications around the world during the 19th century. Most people believed the substance was like magic due to its accessibility, durability and resistance to heat. Asbestos was incorporated into anything and everything to help preserve the longevity of the products and materials.

Some of the most common uses of asbestos were in construction and insulation. Asbestos was known to be durable and heat resistant, which made it the perfect insulating component. 

The construction industry was the main consumer of asbestos for a long time as the material was used in nearly every building component, including spray-on insulation, electrical wiring, drywall joint compounds, ceiling tiles and more. The military often used asbestos when building ships, vehicles and aircraft. Most Navy ships built before the 1980s likely contain asbestos.

Any type of construction or manufacturing process often included asbestos. For instance, the automotive industry played a large role in asbestos use. Asbestos was known to be included primarily in brakes and clutches and may have been in other vehicle components.

Asbestos could also be found in some of the most unsuspecting products on the market, such as makeup, textiles and uniforms, crayons, potting soil and many others. 

However, the corporations that manufactured and distributed asbestos and asbestos-containing materials failed to inform their employees, end users and consumers of the associated health risks, which led to asbestos exposure for hundreds of thousands of Americans.  

Asbestos Health Effects

Asbestos has been linked to multiple health conditions, such as lung cancer, lung tissue scarring (asbestosis) and mesothelioma. Any type or amount of asbestos exposure can result in long-term health conditions. Unfortunately, it is common for these illnesses to develop years – even decades – after exposure.

Any type of asbestos exposure – or any amount of asbestos exposure – is unsafe. The concern is with loose asbestos fibers. When asbestos is intact and concealed within a material or substance, it is not harmful. However, the danger arises when asbestos breaks apart and splinters into tiny fibers. Inhaling or swallowing asbestos particles can have severe health effects. 

Lung cancer from asbestos exposure typically occurs from inhaling asbestos fibers. It has no medical difference from lung cancer caused by genetics, smoking or other factors. Inhaling or breathing in loose asbestos fibers can result in lung cancer or other lung conditions. 

Mesothelioma has a long latency period, which is the amount of time between exposure and diagnosis. Asbestos exposure is the only cause of mesothelioma. Sometimes, mesothelioma can take several decades to present significant symptoms. However, early mesothelioma symptoms are often mild or resemble other common health conditions, which explains why some patients ignore their symptoms or assume they are signs of another health issue. 

It’s important to know the health risks associated with asbestos and asbestos-containing materials. If you were exposed to asbestos and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our registered nurse and patient advocate, Karen Ritter. She can help guide you through your diagnosis by connecting you with top-ranked cancer centers and experienced mesothelioma treatment specialists.   

Frequently Asked Questions About Asbestos-Containing Products and Materials

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How Many Products Contain Asbestos?

There are more than 3,000 products potentially containing asbestos. Many products and materials can be linked to construction and manufacturing, while some may be the most unsuspecting. There were numerous consumer products known to contain asbestos during the 20th century.

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What Products or Materials Contain Asbestos Today?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented strict regulations on the use of asbestos in 1989. The likelihood of finding asbestos in products or materials created today is low. The only legal use of asbestos in the U.S. is in the chlor-alkali industry. However, there may be old products or materials in your home, office or car potentially containing asbestos, such as popcorn ceilings, talc-based consumer products or car brake linings.

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What if I Used an Asbestos-Containing Product or Material?

If you or someone you know used an asbestos-containing product or material and have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma, contact our patient advocates. They can connect you with asbestos exposure experts to better understand your exposure history. Our patient advocates can help guide you through your diagnosis and connect you with top-ranked hospitals and specialists.

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Camryn Keeble image

About the Writer, Camryn Keeble

Camryn Keeble is the senior content writer and editor for Mesothelioma Guide. She creates informative content to educate mesothelioma patients and their loved ones on news, treatments and more. She also works diligently to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure and the effects of mesothelioma.