asbestos uses
Dec 07 2017

6 Asbestos Uses You May Not Know About


Asbestos is a material made from naturally occurring silicate minerals. It was popular with 20th-century builders and manufacturers due to its beneficial commercial qualities, such as good tensile strength, fire resistance, affordability and sound absorption.

However, asbestos was banned by the UK in November 1999 due to its serious negative health side effects. The material has been proven to cause malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.


Asbestos Today

To this day, many buildings still contain asbestos, due to them being built before the material was banned. Therefore, it’s a legal requirement for buildings to be checked for asbestos, to keep those in them safe.

It may come as a surprise to you that asbestos isn’t just in our walls, it was used in a variety of different products, not just in the construction sector.


1.Fire Fighting

Asbestos was used in heat-resistant firefighting equipment and clothing. It was embedded into clothes such as boots, fire suit, jackets, and gloves. The fibres were certainly released every time a firefighter used the equipment.



2.Fake Snow

The Wizard of Oz

Back in the 1930s-1950s, asbestos was used to make fake snow commonly used in Christmas decorations. It was widely desired because it didn’t catch fire due to its fire resistance. It’s even reported that these fake asbestos fibres were used on the set of “The Wizard of Oz”.


3. Hair salons

In the 1950s. women enjoyed visiting the hairdressers and sitting under the huge hood-style hair dryers. Did you know that those hairdryers contained asbestos? They put a layer of asbestos within the hood to save the customers from being burnt.



Bucky Beaver – Ipana advert


4. Toothpaste

Another unusual use of asbestos was that it was once used in toothpaste as an abrasive. Do you remember the scene in Grease when Jan is singing along to the Ipana Toothpaste Commercial?

This was the toothpaste containing asbestos. It was back during World War II when the Industrial Age was at its peak and companies were coming up with new patents for its use. Thankfully, Ipana’s asbestos toothpaste is no longer available.


5. Surgery

After World War II, surgeons began to use asbestos thread to stitch up patients; likely chosen because of its high tensile strength and flexibility. It’ll be a comfort to know that it is no longer used by medical professionals.


6. Cigarettes

Kent cigarettes

Kent brand cigarettes were popular during the 1950s. Were you aware that they used Crocidolite filters? They were advertised as ‘the greatest health protection in history’ and millions of packets were sold between 1952-1956. Many smokers of the cigarettes experienced health issues later in life due to asbestos exposure. A study published in 1995 revealed that one pack a day would expose them to 131 million crocidolite fibres; each filter contained 10mg of asbestos.

The icing on the asbestos cake was when the company P.Lorillard ran a test in 1954 to see the effects the asbestos had on their consumer’s lungs. They chose to ignore the findings of dangerous exposure and kept them hidden; never advising their consumers of the dangers.

Even today, there is a risk of asbestos in cigarettes. Russia still mines asbestos, therefore many of the cigarettes produced by them still use asbestos filters.


These are just a small selection of the many different uses of asbestos until its ban in 1999.

Would you have guessed any of them?

It seems unbelievable considering what we now know about the dangers of asbestos.

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