Know the household items that could contain asbestos

You’re probably aware of the need to beware of dislodging asbestos in your home, particularly if the house is older. And you may know that working in building and construction trades involving asbestos-containing products is dangerous.

Yet there are also risks of asbestos exposure posed by several consumer and household products. Heightened concern about such exposure is in order following recent disclosures about Johnson & Johnson’s knowledge of asbestos in its baby powder.

Here are six items in your home that could contain asbestos.

  • Small appliances Older appliances such as coffee pots, toasters, popcorn makers, slow cookers, irons and more have contained asbestos in the past. If you attempted repairing one of these products, it could release asbestos fibers, and frayed wiring could contain asbestos.
  • Hair dryers Most handheld hair dryers had asbestos in them until 1980 or so; the blowing mechanism could blast asbestos into your breathing zone. If you have an older hair dryer, it may be worth replacing it.
  • Heat-resistant products Items such as ironing board covers, electric blankets, fireproof gloves, burner pads and other heat-resistant products often historically contained asbestos. If you have an older model, avoid opening or cutting these products. If they are frayed in any manner, get rid of them.
  • Cosmetics Talc is a mineral that often occurs with asbestos in the earth. If the company manufacturing a talc-based product isn’t careful the product could contain asbestos. Many cosmetic products include talc as an ingredient. In the summer of 2017, a laboratory discovered Justice sold makeup products that contained asbestos to its young customer base.
  • Baby powder Baby powder is talcum powder and it could contain asbestos. This is especially dangerous for infants and for women who use baby powder for feminine hygiene. A Reuters investigation recently discovered that Johnson & Johnson not only sold baby powder containing asbestos for 60 years, but knew they were doing it.
  • Vermiculite garden products Vermiculite is a mica ore used in fertilizers, pesticides, potting mixes and composts that may contain asbestos. Seventeen of 38 vermiculite-containing garden products tested by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found traces of asbestos.

If you use these products in your home and have exhibited any symptoms of asbestos exposure, it may be worth visiting a doctor. If you purchase a newer model manufactured in the United States, some of these items may not be an asbestos risk. It may have served a purpose to get a good deal on a toaster at a secondhand store, but it may be time to replace it.

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