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What Everyday Items May Contain Asbestos?

Everyday Items That Contain Asbestos

Back in 1999, the UK’s blanket-ban on asbestos came into force.

For decades, asbestos was favoured for its fire-retardant properties, and its ability to act as an insulator. Up until the late 1970s, it was still used in products used to help you get ready in the morning, help grow plants in your garden, and even cook your food.

It eventually became clear that asbestos could be extremely harmful if fibers are inhaled. Today then, you would be forgiven for thinking the products you buy, and those already in your home, are free of asbestos. As it turns out, there are a number of everyday items that may still contain the substance.

1. Hairdryers

Up until as recently as 1980, asbestos was found in most handheld hairdryers. As asbestos is most harmful when fibers are inhaled, it’s worrying that you could be blowing asbestos-contaminated air into your home.

In 1979, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission called on manufacturers to voluntarily recall products affected. Only a small percentage of the 18 million affected hairdryers were recovered.

2. Talcum powder

No parent would willingly put their baby at risk, which is why there was outcry recently when the US Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into whether leading baby-care brand, Johnson & Johnson, life to the public about the possible cancer risks of its talcum powder.

The Justice Department is looking at upwards of 14,000 lawsuits claiming that J&J’s talc products have caused ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, a rare form of the disease linked to asbestos exposure. Johnson & Johnson vehemently deny the claims.

3. Toys

A 2015 report by CNN showed that four out of 28 boxes of crayons tested by the Environmental Working Group Action Fund, tested positive for asbestos. The same report also found traces of the substance in two toy crime lab kits. Not an isolated incident, tests in 2000 and 2007 also found traces of harmful asbestos in crayons and toy fingerprint exam kits.

4. Small appliances

Historically, asbestos was used in small household appliances such as coffee pots, irons, and toasters. These products are potentially harmful as they may release asbestos fibers when disassembled. You also run the risk of asbestos exposure through frayed wires. Antiques and collectors should pay close care when handling old toasters, irons, and the like.

5. Heaters

One of the reasons asbestos was so widely used ahead of its ban was because it was heat resistant. Because of this, it may be found in older domestic heaters made before the 1980s. If you own an older property with affixed heaters, they could contain asbestos and having them at least inspected by a professional would be advisable.

If you’re one such professional, and you work in buildings built before 2000, you need asbestos awareness training. You can earn your UKATA Asbestos Awareness Training Certificate in just two hours with our online course. It’s the most popular UKATA asbestos awareness training, and can be taken fully online.

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Asbestos Laws and Legislation in the UK

Asbestos laws and legislation

Asbestos is an extremely dangerous substance that was commonly used in construction prior to the 1980’s within the UK. Thousands of people die each year from asbestos related illnesses, leading to stricter regulations and an eventual ban on the use of the substance. 
Sadly, the substance is still used worldwide, so the number of deaths is continuing to increase.

Rules and regulations for the use of asbestos within the UK have evolved since the 1960’s to ensure that the substance was no longer used within construction, and that anyone handling or exposed to the substance was protected and educated on its dangers:

Asbestos Legislation In The 60’s

The Asbestos Regulations of 1969 were the first UK laws designed to help control asbestos exposure in the workplace.

Asbestos Legislation In The 80’s

Asbestos prohibition laws in the United Kingdom were first introduced in the mid-1980s. In 1985, the UK banned the import and use of blue (crocidolite) and brown (amosite) asbestos.

The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations were introduced in 1987 enforcing statutory control procedures to help control exposure to asbestos within the workplace.

Asbestos Legislation In The 90’s

In 1992 a law that also banned some uses of white (chrysotile) asbestos, traditionally considered less lethal than the other forms of the mineral, was introduced.  By 1999 the use and import of asbestos was banned in the UK.

The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations were, again, updated to make it mandatory to substitute other suitable, safer products for asbestos wherever possible within the workplace.

Asbestos Legislation In The 00’s

In 2002, the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations were amended yet again to require that all workplaces identify any existing asbestos or asbestos-containing materials and manage the asbestos to ensure the safety of workers.

The 2006 Control of Asbestos Regulation Act further built on this legislation to create one single law that prohibits the use, supply and importation of all asbestos. The act also set maximum exposure limits and demanded that anyone who was at risk of encountering asbestos on the job is trained in the proper handling of the material.

The following asbestos products and work activities relating to asbestos were outlawed in the UK by the Control of Asbestos Regulations Act, unless the products were manufactured prior to November 1999:

  • Spraying of asbestos materials as a surface coating
  • Use of low-density insulating or soundproofing materials made from asbestos
  • Importation of asbestos-containing products
  • Use of asbestos cement
  • Use of boards, panels or tiles covered in asbestos paint or plasters

Asbestos Legislation In The 2010’s

The updates to The Control of Asbestos Regulations Act in 2012 added more requirements to improve safety measures of non-licensed asbestos workers. 
Additional measures included: reporting non-licensed asbestos work to the relevant enforcing authority, keeping written records of the work and having workers under medical surveillance.  Again, this update was to further protect workers who may be exposed to the substance.

Exposure to asbestos remains a danger today, however there are a number of training courses that can be undertaken to advise and guide workers on how to remain safe when exposed to the substance.  The most popular are:

If you’re unsure which course is best your you and your workers, then please ask our team.