What Everyday Items May 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.