Asbestos was an over-used mineral in the 20th century. It is found throughout family homes – even home appliances – built before the 1980s due to its heat-resistant and durable properties. Fortunately, there are strict regulations in place today to prevent the reckless use of the harmful substance.
However, asbestos may still be present in American homes and certain appliances.
Irresponsible asbestos production has led to millions of Americans exposed to asbestos and at risk of developing an asbestos disease. One of the top asbestos diseases is a rare cancer called mesothelioma. This cancer is only caused by asbestos exposure. Other diseases caused by asbestos are lung cancer and ovarian cancer.
Most exposure to asbestos occurred on job sites, but there have been instances of asbestos exposure in the home. Older homes, such as those with old appliances, are the most likely to contain asbestos.
But where exactly can asbestos be found in the home? Which appliances are known to contain asbestos? Which products should consumers avoid or replace?
Which Home Appliances Contain Asbestos?
Home appliances, along with asbestos, swept the nation during the 20th century. The purpose of these electronics was to save time and energy on household chores.
These inventions revolutionized housekeeping, making the process less labor intensive. No one could have suspected that the gadgets created to make our lives easier could contain a deadly substance.
Many common home appliances have been known to contain asbestos. Some products were even pulled from the market. It is not as common for appliances made today to contain asbestos, but there is a chance some old appliances in your home can still contain traces of the cancerous mineral.
Here is a list of home appliances known to contain asbestos. The appliances are grouped together by similarities.
Boilers and Water Heaters
Some of the most commonly known household appliances to contain asbestos are boilers and water heaters. Boilermakers are among one of the highest risk occupations for asbestos due to excessive handling of asbestos materials during the manufacturing of boilers and water heaters.
However, it is very unlikely for a home built after 1980 to have a boiler or water heater containing asbestos. Regular boilers and water heaters have an average lifespan of 10-20 years, but with frequent maintenance, some can last up to 50 years. This means older boilers or water heaters may have decaying asbestos that, if released into the air, can be dangerous in the home.
Fireplaces, Wood-Burning Stoves and Chimneys
Asbestos has also been known to be included in fireplaces, wood-burning stoves and chimneys, along with the artificial ashes and embers sold for use in the fireplace. The walls and vinyl flooring surrounding these heat-conducting appliances are also known to contain asbestos.
The mineral kept the appliances and nearby walls and floor insulated and fire-resistant, but at what cost?
Stove Tops and Ironing Boards
Old stove top pads and ironing board covers, at their peak popularity, had traces of asbestos in them. The stove top pads protected the stove or counter top from hot pans or dishes out of the oven. Ironing board covers insulated the ironing board from the heat produced from the iron.
Both of these products were created with asbestos as a main ingredient for the purpose of fire resistance. The manufacturers were successful in their products being nonflammable, but their products had the potential to cause cancer.
Lamps and Light Bulbs
Asbestos was used in some lamps and light bulbs, more often found inside the lamp or bulb. There are reports of asbestos being used as part of a fragrance dispensing system or vaporizer inside the light bulb or lamp. In this case, asbestos-based blotting paper may have been used on the outside of any regular light bulb.
Lamps and light bulbs also utilized asbestos as an insulating agent, similar to many other appliances. Asbestos was used as an insulated coating and several elements within the lamp or bulb, such as some in-bulb mountants or insulators and asbestos-coated foil.
Hair Dryers and Clothes Dryers
Hair dryers are on the list of home appliances to contain asbestos. Versions of this appliance were voluntarily recalled by manufacturers after the heat shields in the hair dryers began releasing asbestos during use.
Hair dryers with asbestos heat shields are no longer on the market. Clothes drying machines also have traces of asbestos in some parts of the machine but are not likely to release asbestos dust during use.
9 Other Kitchen Appliances With Asbestos
Many kitchen appliances once contained asbestos and could still exist in older homes or antique shops. Asbestos was commonly used in gaskets, electrical wiring, rubber, linings and fire protection components.
Kitchen 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, such as these eight kitchen appliances:
- Toaster covers
- Coffee pots
- Popcorn poppers
The danger of incorporating asbestos into electrical wiring is the risk of wear and tear on the wiring, which could result in the release of asbestos dust. This can expose anyone who approaches the appliance.
In most cases, these appliances will not release asbestos when used. The asbestos in these appliances were usually sealed within 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.
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