Family heirlooms, retro furniture, antiques, dated consumer goods, and vintage fixtures whoever said they were part of the good ole days? It can be startling to realize that people do not understand the vast array of items that were mixed or made with asbestos from the past- and yes, asbestos is in vintage collectibles. Likewise, numerous manufacturers and industries exploited the mineral rock fibers, which compiled in a bundle referred to as asbestos.
Years later, what society did not know was the effect these innocent, and seemingly brilliant items would have on the health and well-being of so many people. Most of these items were very practical, and asbestos contained in these now vintage collectibles was anything but harmless.
Asbestos in Vintage Collectibles from Exposure To Fibers
Asbestos is a mineral rock form that is categorized into bundles from individual fibers and then classified into six types of fiber classifications. Exposure to these fibers is known to cause lung disease, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, rare cancer, which is solely developed by asbestos. Usually, harmful exposure to asbestos takes time to form and is more likely than not to come from long-term exposure instead of a single chance encounter.
The most susceptible way to be affected by these fibers is by inhaling them. Once the mineral fibers are ingested, they can lie inside the lining of the lungs and abdominal cavity. Over time, with more exposure to the contaminated material and build up from the fibers, the risk of developing mesothelioma will increase. Also, not only will the risk for disease be enhanced, but the quality of life of an individual can diminish due to breathing problems or other ailments. It is essential to be informed about what could lead to these issues by learning about what products were possibly used with asbestos.
As asbestos was found in vintage collectibles, it is important to know where and how exposure is possible.
Items That Could Contain Asbestos
So, how did asbestos get into vintage collectibles? On record, over 3,000 products or items have contained or used asbestos as an ingredient. Aside from building products, commercial applications, and military use, there were still hundreds if not thousands of items made with asbestos. A large number of products made within the last 35 years were part of some common everyday household goods — other things varied from recreational items, children’s toys, books, and appliances.
Asbestos was a primary component or additive for a heat shield within several of these appliances, including but not limited to several kinds of washing machines, dryers, and various heat-conducting or producing devices. Today most of these items are still used daily in the modern-day household setting. Ordinary household goods such as stove-tops; irons, iron board rests or sheaths; toasters or toaster ovens; electric heaters; refrigerators and deep freezers; deep fryers; ovens; washing machines; clothes dryers; and dishwashers were commonplace starting in the mid to late part of the twentieth century.
If you or anyone has an older or ‘antique’ appliance, please use caution because the effects are still prevalent no matter how much or how little the item is used. The only other safe alternative would be to discard the item or have a professional dispose of it properly. Vintage collectibles made with asbestos can have very harmful effects in the long run.
Sporting and Recreational Items with Asbestos
Surprisingly, recreational items such as bowling balls once were made with asbestos. Avid bowlers or lane workers could have been constantly exposed to the dust coming off of the balls, especially if they were drilled into or bored out. Today bowling balls are now free of asbestos, but anyone produced over thirty years ago could be highly subject to be made with asbestos. Even vintage collectibles such as bicycles made 30 or more years ago used asbestos inside the padding of the seats. It goes to show that there are thousands of uses in all types of items.
Asbestos and Books
Another quintessential vintage novelty that was common not only in libraries but in many homes was the book. Many books in the past were bound with asbestos not only in the binding or the cover but even throughout the whole book. For example, the entire book Fahrenheit 451 was originally made out of pure asbestos because of its fire-resistant property, which was done because of the massive fear that protesters, of the controversial novel, would attempt to burn mass copies of the book in protest.
On a good note, the majority of books published or made with asbestos were journals or bound commercial publications that were not produced or distributed into mainstream reading material. In turn, if you do have any older or inherited books as vintage collectibles, please use caution when handling them due to wear and tear over the years. As a safeguard, seals or covers would be a great option to protect yourself and preserve the integrity of the book or collection you may have.
Children’s Toys and Displays
Shockingly, children’s items such as crayons contained asbestos and could even have a 4 out of 28 ‘box’ chance of being contaminated with asbestos today! In addition, many finger-paint kits contained asbestos, and were pulled once research found the paint could harmfully expose their consumers to asbestos.
Even more interesting to know, there were now vintage collectible items made solely of asbestos in its purest form. Fake snow made at or before World War II was comprised of pure asbestos in its raw form. These sets traditionally were passed down from generation to generation. Although not as apparent these days but many vintage goods or antique dealers may have displays for sale without even realizing the material used in the items. If you come across any of these items, please be aware of the possible fact that asbestos might exist in the collectible item.
Miscellaneous Vintage Collectibles and Classic Novelties
Also, miscellaneous items such as vintage furniture, old Christmas ornaments, wood-burning stoves, gas-fireplaced logs, electric blankets, and fireproof gloves, capitalized on the use of asbestos within these manufactured products. These items, even though dated, still can be in shape to use or function for many years. The danger comes into effect when some of these items start to wear out and become brittle, thereby exposing some of the asbestos particles to be airborne. These items can be harmful when they begin to fall apart or break, which makes the asbestos particles suspect to become airborne and then settle in the surrounding area.
Inspect: Antiques, Dated Appliances, Decorative Items, and all Suspect Vintage Collectibles
Having a decorative antique or two is not going to be the end of the world if it happens to contain asbestos. Caution and attention to detail do need to follow when examining these items to make sure they are in a safe condition to be displayed. To be on the safe side, any functioning household good that is still used on a day to day basis should be retired if asbestos presides as an ingredient in the product.
Asbestos Is Technically Legal Here In The United States
Remember, asbestos is technically legal here in the United States. Asbestos can be in homes or buildings as long as the materials are in good condition, and the asbestos fibers are not physically broken up or pierced. If the asbestos contained item has been damaged or severely worn, there may be a substantial risk that anyone nearby can be susceptible to the airborne mineral fiber particles. Once these asbestos fibers are exposed, and in the surrounding atmosphere, everyone can be vulnerable to the harmful effects they can have on a person’s health.
Beware Of Exposure
Please be safe and use caution when dealing with or dabbling in antiques. Always be aware of your surroundings and what you come into contact with regarding antiques. If, for some reason, you or a loved one do believe that harmful effects have ailed you do to the exposure of asbestos, please do not hesitate to seek an experienced asbestos attorney.