Asbestos in Clay

At the height of asbestos-usage in the 1950s, thousands of everyday products contained the carcinogenic substance. Its durability and low price point meant it served as an excellent filler for a variety of items, including clay. Many clay products before the 1980s were mixed with asbestos—a dry, friable material that can cause asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma.

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Many people now know the dangers that asbestos poses to human health, but most would associate asbestos risks with the construction industry—everything from roofing and siding to insulation and fire curtains. While this may be the case, asbestos was used casually from the 1950s through the 1970s in a surprising amount of household items, even those marketed at children.

Asbestos in Clay Explained

Asbestos in clay was used as a talc-like component, designed to bind together the other ingredients and form a putty. Modeling clay was commonly used in classrooms as a learning and playtime device, and brands such as DAS mass-produced this harmful modeling clay and distributed it on a large scale.

Between 1963 and 1975, around 55 million packs of DAS air-drying modeling clay were sold to schools in the UK and Europe. The clay contained asbestos fibers as a strengthener and could be responsible for asbestos-related diseases in those who came into contact with it.

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In 1975, Fibro-Clay distributed by Milton Bradley was recalled because it was found to contain more than 50% asbestos. The product was regularly used in classrooms for paper-mâché projects and would have placed school children and teachers in direct contact with asbestos. By this point, the dangers of asbestos were more widely known, and the shocking revelation prompted Milton Bradley to cease manufacturing the product entirely.

More recent cases include that of a 2007 toy called the CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit, which was recalled after its fingerprinting powder was found to contain asbestos. This fine powder was designed to be played with, and it’s almost inevitable that children could inhale or ingest such substances, the effects of which could be incredibly damaging.

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Exposure to asbestos has led to thousands of mesothelioma diagnoses. If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the Mesothelioma Justice Guide will help you understand your rights and know the next steps.

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Who Was Exposed to Asbestos Clay Products?

In older schools, asbestos was commonly used in insulation. Asbestos building products put all people within the school at some risk of asbestos exposure but in a minor way. Asbestos is not considered dangerous until disturbed. It’s unlikely students and teachers could have developed mesothelioma from old asbestos in schools.

Unfortunately, students and teachers were more likely to have come into more direct asbestos contact through modeling clay.

Former school teachers, teaching assistants and pupils could have come into contact with asbestos through regularly playing with modeling clay. Pupils, in particular, would have used clay frequently, and are more likely to have had residue left on their hands, which could be ingested.

Access Asbestos Trust Funds

Compensation for treatment, loss of income and other damages is available through Asbestos Trust Funds. Workers with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses may qualify.

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Health Risks of Asbestos in Clay

Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a disease that occurs when friable asbestos fibers are inhaled and attach to the lining of the heart, lungs or abdomen.

The concern with clay is that countless children and teachers may have come into daily contact with the substance and could now be at risk of developing mesothelioma. The particles are easily carried on clothing, hair and shoes. Students and staff could have taken these toxic fibers outside of the classroom and,  unintentionally, risked harming others.

The levels of asbestos in clay are deemed low-level threats, yet studies have shown that occupational asbestos exposure over an extended period can have detrimental effects.

Seeking Justice for Asbestos Exposure

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of asbestos in everyday products is that many companies knew about the dangers and hid them. The 2007 CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit example proves that, even in more recent years, some companies are still not taking asbestos exposure seriously.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and feel that you may have come into contact with asbestos through mass-produced modeling clays, contact our Justice Support Team. Call us at (888) 360-4215 or sign up to receive our FREE Mesothelioma Justice to help you understand your legal options.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:


Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

View 3 Sources
  1. UPI, "The manufacturer of a modeling clay used by school". Retrieved from: Accessed on May 29, 2018.
  2. CPSC, "CPSC and Milton Bradley Co. Recall "Fibro-Clay”. Retrieved from: Accessed on May 29, 2018.
  3. The Star, "Who hid the facts on asbestos?". Retrieved from: Accessed on May 29, 2018.
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