Need some evidence that asbestos was once used everywhere? Check out five of the most ridiculous asbestos products that have been found to date.
- The Micronite cigarette filter. One of the most infamous asbestos products of all time was the Micronite, a cutting-edge filter developed by the Lorillard Company for their Kent brand. Promoted as a healthy alternative to unfiltered cigarettes, the Micronite was actually made from 30% crocidolite blue asbestos, regarded as many experts as the most hazardous of the six asbestos minerals. From 1952 to 1957, Kent sold about 13 billion Kents with the asbestos-laced Micronite filter. The number of mesothelioma cancer cases can be directly tied to Micronites is unknown.
- Fake snow. Remember the famous poppies scene in the 1939 MGM classic The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy, Toto, and the Cowardly Lion are awakened from their narcotic sleep by snowfall? That lovely, soft snow was, like most other realistic looking snow of the era, made from a mix of chrysotile asbestos and mica. Asbestos mixed with mica was a logical, even smart choice for fake snow at the time (which merchants were demanding to boost their holiday display and revenues).
- Hairdryers. In 1979, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall of over 30 of the top-selling hairdryers in the United States because they were found to contain asbestos. This was no small thing the CPC determined that the majority of the hair dryers tested were found to be emitting asbestos fiber levels comparable to or greater than other serious levels of asbestos in the general environment, such as those found in certain school buildings and near construction sites.
- Crockpots. As with many consumer products of the time, the crock pot used asbestos for heat and electrical insulation, a crucial safety component for a self-contained device with elevated temperature. The asbestos was most often located between the inner and outer layers of the crock pot, as well as wrapped around the wires. Asbestos was phased out of crock pots by the 1980s, but many older pots are still in use.
- Asbestos dish towels. Carousel asbestos dish towels were marketed in the mid twentieth century with the claim that their 20% asbestos content made them superabsorbent with better polishing abilities than ordinary, non-asbestos dish towels. Of course, there was no conceivable reason that dish towels needed to have asbestos in them, especially since it had been proven since the 1930s that asbestos exposure was directly tied to a host of respiratory diseases such as mesothelioma cancer (a fact that the asbestos industry did not share with their workers or with the general public.)