Uncommon Asbestos Applications in the Past

Uncommon Asbestos Applications in the Past

Throughout most of the 20th century, asbestos was a popular building material that became standard in  manufacturing, industrial industry, and in many households.  Today, when we think of asbestos, we might imagine insulation, siding, roofing, and vinyl floor tiles as common asbestos applications. However, because of its appearance, sound proofing, and heat resistant capabilities, asbestos was applied in some unique ways over the years.

Pianos, player pianos, organs
Asbestos can be found in some piano padding, and some experts believe that asbestos millboard was used for some component parts for pianos made in more humid climates where damp environments can negatively impact the quality and sound of a piano. Felt used to dampen the piano key hammer may also have contained asbestos. Insulation used may have contained vermiculite, a substance that is not a carcinogen, but has a history of containing asbestos fibers. While asbestos is no longer used in this type of application today, those that own particularly old piano models might be at risk for asbestos exposure if the piano is undergoing a restoration process.

Surgical thread
In order to make surgical thread stronger and more flexible, asbestos was added to the thread shortly after WWII. A stronger more durable thread meant that it could be used in more serious surgical procedures that involved repairing more delicate areas of the body such as the heart and the lungs. It’s hard to believe that asbestos containing surgical thread was used in such close proximity to the lung, given what we know today about the lung problems caused specifically by asbestos exposure.

Film Sets
From film stunts to fake snow, asbestos was a common prop in the film industry, especially around the Golden Age of the movie business. Classics such as White Christmas and The Wizard of Oz used asbestos for fake snow. The white fibers were light and delicate and most importantly, looked real on the screen. In stunts that involved fire, asbestos was used on the set and in body suits because of its fire resistant qualities.

Light bulbs 
You may not think about the common household light bulb as a source for asbestos exposure, but years ago asbestos was used in many electrical manufacturing companies. While it is rare to find asbestos in light bulbs today, older light bulbs, light fixtures, special purpose lamps, and fragrance dispensers may have contained asbestos at some point in time. The interior of the bulbs in some bulb bases for mounting may have contained an asbestos-cement mix. It’s more common to find asbestos in light bulbs that are designed for outdoor use. Westinghouse, one of the largest and most successful electric companies in the United States, exposed their workers to asbestos through the manufacturing of light bulbs.

If you are suffering from an asbestos-related illness and are unsure if you have ever been exposed, contact the attorneys at Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C. Learn more about our law firm’s asbestos experience, our mesothelioma attorneys, or our Ask an Asbestos Attorney for answers to common questions. Feel free to contact us directly for more information.

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