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Written by Kim Milan

Whilst researching for a claim we came across the following British Pathé film showing how asbestos fibres were formed on the earth’s surface and some of the “wonderful” uses for the product.

The short video can be viewed here.

In the video a number of workers are shown using asbestos based cloth to make a number of items such as asbestos fire suits for use by RAF fireman, like the suit pictured below.

All of the workers are handling the asbestos cloth with their bare hands and no personal protective equipment such as breathing masks or ventilation equipment is being used at all.

Worryingly the workers are then seen to cut and sew the material which would have released thousands of harmful minute asbestos fibres in to the air which are invisible to the naked eye, but extremely dangerous if inhaled.

The effect of inhaling harmful asbestos fibres is a risk of suffering from diseases such as pleural plaques, pleural thickening, asbestosis, mesothelioma or asbestos induced lung cancer, the latter two conditions being fatal diseases.

The asbestos fire suits are then seen in use by a fireman waddling around in the suit.  The wearing of this suit may have protected firemen from heat and flames, but simultaneously it would have still been placing the fireman’s life at risk.  Unfortunately asbestos related diseases are not suffered until many years until exposure to asbestos meaning the firemen would not have been able to appreciate the danger they were exposing themselves to when wearing the suits.

Later on in the video asbestos cloth is seen in a variety of places around the home such as asbestos covered sofas and asbestos table cloths.  The video goes on to boast the wonderful properties of asbestos when it shows a lit cigarette not damaging a sofa and a lit candle being unable to burn a table cloth.  Again having asbestos products in the home is extremely unsafe as it only takes a small exposure to asbestos to cause the fatal condition mesothelioma.

Unfortunately many asbestos based household products are still in existence and some asbestos based items are still seen for sale at boot sales, flea markets and in antique shops.  If you believe you have an asbestos item in your home have it checked by an asbestos specialist to be sure it is safe.