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Hundreds of years ago asbestos was hailed as the “miracle material” due to its heat and flame retardant properties and was used extensively. As an example of ancient asbestos use, bodies of Egyptian Pharaohs were wrapped in asbestos cloth to protect the bodies of the Pharaohs from deteriorating.

Another similar example of asbestos use for burial purposes in ancient times can be seen where in 456 BC Herodotus, the classical Greek historian, referred to the use of asbestos sheets being wrapped around the dead before their bodies were tossed onto the funeral pyre to prevent their ashes from being mixed with those of the fire itself.

The use of asbestos in ancient times was not however just reserved for burial purposes. Asbestos was also used for a number of everyday items such as for the making of pots, as table cloths and also as clothes.

It is accepted that the health hazards associated with asbestos such as pleural thickeningasbestosismesothelioma and lung cancer were not known in ancient times. However, since the 1800’s it has been known that asbestos has the toxicity to kill, despite this it has still been used as an everyday material by many.

Below are some adverts we have found which illustrate some of the uses found for asbestos in more recent years.


This advert shows that asbestos was once sold as a cost effective insulating material. Asbestos has been used as an insulating material for years, though usually in industrial settings as pipe lagging.  Asbestos use as home insulation is worrying.

Asbestos dining pads

Asbestos has been used as a table cloth material for thousands of years. It is a known fact that the Romans would throw their soiled table cloths onto the fire to clean them and then boast when they removed it from the flames clean of any spills and still in-tact.

The asbestos dining pad advertised here, however, was used more to protect the table from the heat of hot plates and pans.

Asbestos baking sheets

It seems quite unbelievable now that people would lay their food over a harmful material such as asbestos, though at the time this of course was common practice for many.

Asbestos worktop surfaces

The cutting of the asbestos vinyl sheet to size would have exposed the home owner to harmful asbestos fibres.  Preparing food on the asbestos work surface could also have potentially exposed the home owner to asbestos.

Asbestos homes

Boyes Turner have successfully pursued claims on behalf of asbestos victims who have lived in homes made from asbestos.  These victims were exposed to the harmful fibres coming away from their homes when carrying our routine home improvement works, such as hanging picture frames or when sanding surfaces down for painting.

Asbestos in homes can also be disturbed simply by slamming doors or by children running around the house and causing asbestos walls to vibrate and shake harmful asbestos fibres free from the walls.

Asbestos safety suits

Asbestos was used by people working in places such as foundries where temperatures were extremely high and where extremely hot materials were handled. The asbestos suits and gloves were designed to protect the wearer from burns. Asbestos was also used by fighter pilots in the First and Second World Wars to protect them if their aircraft ignited during battle.

The advert below is from Bestobell’s, a company producing asbestos in Slough, a town not too far from the offices of Boyes Turner, and one that has had numerous asbestos related disease compensation claims pursued against it.

Asbestos play areas 

The last advert in this short gallery shows that asbestos was used as a construction material in children’s play areas. This use of asbestos as an everyday construction material is, of course, quite shocking.  Just bouncing a ball on these areas would have caused asbestos fibres to come away which the children could have then breathed in.

Asbestos in the present

Whilst asbestos is no longer used as a construction material in the UK there are plenty of locations where asbestos is still present.  

Boyes Turner support calls to the Government to have all asbestos either completely removed or encapsulated so as to protect people from the harmful effects of this so called “miracle material”.