Uncommon Products That Used to Contain Asbestos

Uncommon Products That Used to Contain Asbestos

Uncommon Products That Used to Contain Asbestos

Asbestos has been linked to several life-threatening diseases, such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Construction products, car parts, and fertilizers and potting soils have been brought the public’s attention as the most substantial uses of asbestos. However, other products, which may not be as well known, have also contained asbestos.

Baby & Body Powder

An examination by Reuters of many of the documents, depositions and trial testimony show that from as early as 1971, Johnson & Johnson’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos.

In New Jersey, Missouri and California juries awarded significant sums of money to plaintiffs who blamed J&J’s asbestos-tainted talc products for their mesothelioma or ovarian cancer.

Cosmetics

In 2017, The Food and Drug Administration confirmed the presence of asbestos in teenage eye and face makeup products from tween retailers Claire’s and Justice. . Three products from Claire’s and one from Justice were found to contain asbestos.

Children’s toys and crayons

According to tests by EWG Action Fund, four brands of crayons and two kids’ crime scene fingerprint kits were found to contain deadly asbestos fibers. Affected toys are:

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

According to package labels, all the crayons and toys that contained asbestos were made in China and imported to the U.S. The asbestos found in the tested products was most likely a contaminant of talc used as a binding agent.

Christmas Decorations

Because of its heat-resistant properties, asbestos was used in several different Christmas decorations to create the ‘fake snow’ effect.

Hair Styling Instruments

In the 1950s and 1960s, hair salons all had giant hood style hairdryers, which ladies would sit under to have their hair dried.  Some of the earliest blow-dry hair dryers and curling irons contained a layer of asbestos as a safety feature to prevent getting burned by hot air.

Home Kitchen Appliances

Many appliances were lined with asbestos insulation before the 1980s. Its fibrous properties made it easy to weave into insulation and fabrics used to line consumer kitchen products and appliances.

Affected products include:

  • Ovens and stoves, toasters, crockpots, coffee pots, and popcorn poppers
  • Dishwashers and washing machines, heaters, and dryers
  • Oven mitts, dish towels, potholders, placemats.

Toothpaste

In the 1950s, Bristol-Myers began producing toothpaste called Ipana. Ipana became popular and had a distinctive wintergreen flavoring.  The toothpaste also had asbestos fibers within it which were designed to act as an abrasive and help scrub stains off of teeth.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented several bans on asbestos use in manufacturing from 1973 to 1989. However, in 1991, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the rule.

Most of the asbestos regulations and bans in commerce originally in the 1989 final rule were overturned. Only one regulation survived the 1991 ruling, which bans ‘new uses’ of asbestos. Although products historically containing asbestos are not banned, OSHA standards do not allow them to contain any more than 1% asbestos.

Sources
Reuters, “Special Report: J&J knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder” (December 14, 2018). [link]
USA Today, “FDA says tests confirm asbestos in makeup from Claire’s, Justice” (March 6, 2019). [link]
EPA, “EPA Actions to Protect the Public from Exposure to Asbestos” (June 24, 2019). [link]
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