Does Your Hobby Expose You to Asbestos?

Does Your Hobby Expose You to Asbestos?

In demand throughout the 20th century, asbestos was used in a plethora of products in various industry branches. It was inexpensive, readily available, and an adequate heat and fire-resistant material - a must for the industry.

The construction industry was one of the fields that maximized the advantages of using asbestos in almost every material. This is why the vast majority of the buildings from between 1920 and 1980 primarily contained asbestos. The tensile properties of asbestos made it an important building and binding commodity used in various ways - there were even some roadways made with asbestos-laced asphalt. The mineral isn't only present in the built property; it's there in some goods made for leisure.

Friday Night's Fun Tainted With Asbestos

Adding asbestos for improved material strength made the mineral one of the favored components to produce bowling balls in the 1960s and 1970s. It was mainly used as filler material, and its natural abundance ensured cheaper bowling ball production. A well-known bowling ball type of the period was the Ebonite ball, made of plastic and filled with asbestos waste from discarded brake lining dust. It was a popular ball that received endorsements from professional bowlers and thus was in high customer demand.

The people involved in the manufacturing process were at risk of asbestos exposure, as were the merchants selling them. Shops often offered the service of drilling correct-sized holes into the bowling balls for customers, and no one ever thought of the risks of releasing asbestos fibers into the air. The risk of asbestos exposure also extended to the people using the balls, especially if the cleaning after the drilling wasn't adequate.

Airborne asbestos fibers represent a high health risk if inhaled or ingested over long periods. The indestructible nature that made asbestos so valuable as an industrial material makes it extremely harmful to the human body. Although people bowling with plastic balls had a slight chance of coming into contact with the fibers, it was still a risk, as no quantity of asbestos is safe to inhale or ingest. Bowling balls can last for decades, and though modern balls don't contain asbestos anymore, the ball you chose at the bowling alley may be an older, asbestos-filled one.

Model Railroads Running Through Asbestos Layouts

Enthusiasts of vintage miniature railways used to use asbestos in making scenery, as it was a popular ingredient in plaster. The natural landscape belongs to the experience of the small railroads and trains running through the stations across the table. Molding and smoothing the asbestos plaster into hills and valleys was a practical suggestion in a model railroaders' magazine of the 1940s. The enthusiasts even dyed powdered asbestos green and used it as a ground cover around the tiny railroad system for added effect. They never considered the danger of asbestos exposure by inhaling the microscopic fibers. All the people near the miniature creations were at high risk of exposure to asbestos.

It was in the late 1970s that there was a dramatic reduction in the commercial use of asbestos because of its connection to lung diseases. Before that, asbestos-containing products flooded the markets of those times, making virtually every vintage item a possible source of asbestos exposure. Pieces of old times can become worn and may break, releasing asbestos fibers into the air and exposing everyone close to them to the risk of ingesting or inhaling the tiny fibers. However, exposure to asbestos from vintage pieces usually occurs in small amounts. Still, it's advisable to be cautious and avoid the risks that asbestos can pose in our home environment, as no quantity of asbestos is safe to inhale or ingest.

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.