Asbestos in household appliances

By Stan G. in Health

Before being found to cause various severe diseases, including cancer, asbestos had been widely used in a variety of products. This toxic mineral is mostly associated with building materials and automotive components, but a lot of people are unaware of its existence in common household items.

Cheap, easy to process, and possessing a great heat resistance, asbestos has been the manufacturers' favorite material until the first regulation attempt in 1970, with more than 4.000 products containing the mineral at the time. Therefore, it can still be found in items like hairdryers and other small appliances which were manufactured prior to this year.

When damaged or incorrectly handled, these asbestos-containing products entail a serious risk of health problems. Consequently, it is essential to locate these products and have them properly removed from your house.

Asbestos-containing items

Small appliances manufactured before the 1980s, including toasters, irons, and coffee pots might actually be hazardous asbestos bombs scattered throughout your home. When damaged or disassembled, these products can release dangerous fibers in the air, which can be easily inhaled. We have made a short list of some of the most common asbestos-containing household items:

In toasters manufactured in the 1950s, 60s and 70s asbestos has been used as heat insulation for the body, as well as electrical insulation for the cord. Although asbestos can be dangerous, if it's left alone and not disturbed it doesn't present a health risk.

The brands of the toasters containing asbestos are as follows:

  • Westinghouse Turnover Toaster with Etched Doors
  • Marion Giant Flip Flop Toaster
  • Sunbeam Model T-20 Automatic Toaster

Companies that manufactured toasters containing asbestos:

  • Cleva North America
  • Conair Corporation
  • Danby Appliances Inc.
  • Parkinson Cowan
  • General Electric

From the 1970s until the early 1980s blow dryers were often manufactured using asbestos as insulation to diminish the fire hazard. However, the risk to an individual from sporadic use of an asbestos-emitting hairdryer is extremely low compared to the risk from many current occupational asbestos exposures.

The following manufacturers produced asbestos-laden hair dryers:

  • Conair Corporation
  • General Electric
  • Gillette
  • Indola
  • J.C. Penney
  • Korvettes
  • La Reine
  • Montgomery Ward
  • North American Philips Corp.
  • Remington
  • Salon Nelson
  • Schick
  • Schwartzkopf
  • Scovill
  • Sears
  • Sunbeam
  • Suter and Wella

Asbestos was also found in a range of vintage irons that were manufactured in the early 1900s. The mineral was used under the handles of the irons. However, it poses little to no danger to you at all, unless you break open the iron and scatter the asbestos about yourself and breathe it in.

Companies who once manufactures asbestos-containing irons:

  • Craftmade Products Company
  • Hotpoint
  • General Electric
  • American Electrical Heater
  • Sunbeam
  • Universal
  • American Beauty
  • General Mills

Given that it is an excellent electrical insulator and highly heat-resistant, asbestos was used extensively as internal insulation in domestic heaters. While damage to asbestos sheets inside the storage heater could cause asbestos dust and fibers to be released, if it's in good condition and left undisturbed, are not a significant health risk. All heaters manufactured from 1974 onwards are asbestos-free.

Companies that manufactured heaters made with asbestos-containing materials include:

  • A. O. Smith
  • Conair Corporation
  • General Electric
  • Danby Appliances Inc.

Several brands of crayons and toy detective kits have tested positive for asbestos. The risk of asbestos exposure from the products tested is relatively low. However, health experts argue that children are considerably more susceptible to environmental hazards than adults.

Some brands of crayons and toys found to have trace elements of asbestos:

  • Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Crayons
  • Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons
  • Saban's Power Rangers Super Megaforce Crayons
  • EduScience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit
  • Inside Intelligence Secret Spy Kit

Manufacturers of these products:

  • Crayola LLC
  • National Tinsel Manufacturing Company

Other dangerous appliances

During the 20th century, asbestos prospered as a raw material for plenty of common household items, from bottle warmers to electric ovens. Other appliances and household objects which might contain it include:

  • Coffee pots
  • Stoves
  • Popcorn poppers
  • Curling irons
  • Dishwashers
  • Ironing boards
  • Washing machines
  • Slow cookers
  • Bottle warmers
  • Toasters
  • Hot pan holders

Safe replacement

Although most asbestos-containing appliances do not present a serious asbestos exposure risk unless they are damaged or disassembled, if you possess any of the asbestos-containing appliances mentioned above, it is advisable to remove them and have them replaced with new ones that do not contain asbestos anymore. This way, you protect yourself and the other inhabitants of the house from potentially hazardous asbestos exposure.

Asbestos-containing products should only be thrown away in authorized spaces so make sure to get informed about the special disposal places where you can take them.

Why Should I Test Products in My Home for Asbestos?

It is often impossible to tell whether asbestos is embedded in a material, as the fibers are too small to be observed with the naked eye. Exposure to asbestos is responsible for serious respiratory conditions, so thorough testing is required to ensure your home is asbestos-free.