Asbestos in Curtains Exposure and Risks

Asbestos curtains were used across the nation as a way of protecting stage performers, workers and patrons of the art from devastating fires. Yet, the use of asbestos curtains posed a new health risk, a form of cancer called mesothelioma that takes decades to discover and may take decades more to cure.

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The curtains at the front of theaters may now be seen as a decorative means of creating drama and intrigue, but that’s not the curtain’s primary purpose. Instead, these gorgeous curtains, often mimicking a beautiful red velvet, are actually referred to as “safety curtains” or “fire curtains,” and their intention is to improve patrons odds of survival if a fire breaks out on stage.

Asbestos in Curtains Explained

In the 20th Century, a series of theater fires resulted in public safety concerns and potentially lost profits. In response, theaters began to install asbestos curtains, which were heavy fire-resistant curtains that could help isolate a fire to the stage, should one occur. This small precaution was a big improvement to theater safety.

Asbestos in curtains was a critical component for safety and was used for several reasons: it was extremely fire- and flame-retardant, water-resistant, easy to source and inexpensive to buy.

At the time, asbestos in curtains was the logical solution for a known problem. Live performance theaters, movie theaters, auditoriums, halls and concert venues adopted asbestos curtains with enthusiasm. To this day, many of these asbestos curtains remain intact, especially in older venues.

Free Mesothelioma Justice Guide

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 in Curtains?

Left alone, asbestos in curtains is harmless. These curtains help protect workers and audience members and were a valuable safety resource. But disturbed, asbestos curtains posed a brand new health risk that would cause death and disease for years to come.

Asbestos in curtains releases fibers into the air when they are worn, ripped, cut or otherwise disturbed.

Did You Know?

Mesothelioma Justice Network Brief

Like any safety tool, curtains also need to be maintained and tested on a regular basis, and this testing also releases asbestos fibers into the air. Anyone in or around the asbestos curtains when this disruption occurs is at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers and developing life-threatening diseases.

People who worked with and around asbestos curtains are at risk of asbestos exposure.

Individuals who likely came into contact with asbestos curtains include:

  • Theater employees
  • Maintenance workers
  • Safety inspectors
  • Stage crews
  • Lighting technicians
  • Sound technicians
  • Actors, Actresses, Performers
  • Stage managers

Family members of people who regularly worked with fire curtains may also be exposed to asbestos, as trapped fibers can easily be transported to other environments.

Even today, some asbestos curtains are still in use, often because venues don’t truly recognize the dangers they pose or simply don’t have the budget to replace them.

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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.

Find Out If You Qualify

Health Risks of Asbestos in Curtains

Asbestos curtains are considered a health risk because of the potentially deadly diseases that can develop after asbestos fibers are inhaled. If an asbestos curtain is disturbed, asbestos fibers become airborne and can then be easily inhaled by people nearby.

When workers, patrons or even their family members inhale fibers, those fibers can become lodged in the layers of tissue covering certain organs. Asbestos fibers are sharp and pointy, like tiny javelins, and they can easily get stuck in the body’s soft tissues. Once stuck, the body doesn’t have any mechanisms for breaking down or removing the fibers.

Over time, lodged asbestos fibers can trigger a mutation in nearby cells, transforming them into mesothelioma cells.

Did You Know?

Mesothelioma Justice Network Brief

Though rare, mesothelioma is a growing health concern, as thousands of Americans are being diagnosed with the disease each year. By the time most people with mesothelioma are diagnosed, their survival rate is unfortunately low.

Asbestos exposure has been linked to several other types of cancer as well and can cause a condition called asbestosis. Occurring when asbestos fibers get in the lungs, asbestosis causes inflammation and scarring and can create breathing troubles and even heart failure.

Seeking Justice for Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos curtains pose a significant health risk for people who have been in contact with them on a regular basis. If you have developed mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases as a result of your contact with asbestos curtains, you’re not alone, and you also don’t have to fight alone.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and worked around asbestos in curtains, you may be eligible for legal compensation. Contact the Justice Support team today by calling us at (888) 360-4215. Or receive our FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to understand your next steps as a mesothelioma victim.

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. Limelight Productions, “Fire Curtains,” Retrieved from  Accessed on June 10, 2018.
  2. Inspectapedia, “Asbestos Products,” Retrieved from Accessed on June 10, 2018.
  3. Wenger, “Innovation on Fire: Reviewing Fire Curtain History,” Retrieved from Accessed on June 10, 2018.
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