We’ve already told you asbestos featured in several classic Hollywood films in the days before its health hazards were known. Here are some more unusual uses of asbestos from history, that we would baulk at today –
As a toothpaste
Asbestos fibres were added to toothpaste during the 1940s and 50s, because of their abrasiveness could help shift stubborn stains from teeth. Newspaper and magazine adverts from different brands used to even boast about their high levels of asbestos. The toothpastes were particularly popular for children, as it was felt they would keep their teeth white rather than them becoming stained with age.
In hair salons
You know those huge hood-style hair dryers that became popular in salons from the 1950s onwards? The ones that ladies would sit under and read magazines or chat while their hair dried? They were perfect for drying hair so that it could be teased and styled into an enormous beehive or bouffant hairstyle. But they also contained asbestos. They had a layer of heat-proof asbestos in the hood, to prevent the customers’ heads from burning.
In surgical thread
Also during the 1950s, surgeons began using asbestos thread to stitch up patients following surgery. They did so because of asbestos thread’s high tensile strength and high flexibility – but little did they think that were actually filling their patients with material that could or would just cause further medical problems down the line.
A magic table cloth
Legend has it that the Roman emperor Charlemagne, who ruled during the 8th century, was among the first to discover a novel use of asbestos.
He is said to have had an enormous asbestos tablecloth. After feasting each evening, it would be thrown onto the fire. Crumbs, stains, etc., would be burnt off – but the tablecloth itself would then emerge from the flames without damage. This helped fuel the belief of the time that the emperor held magic powers.
We know better today about the hazards of asbestos. If you are concerned about in your home or commercial property for any reason, and would like to engage the professionals to help, just get in touch with us.
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