Asbestos in Gloves Exposure and Risks

Asbestos gloves, or mittens, were used from the 1900s to the 1980s. The gloves had between 40% and 100% asbestos. Metal workshops, steel plants, glass workers and firefighters used these gloves. They were used in these jobs because they protected the hands from very high temperatures and were slash and tear resistant.

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Asbestos in Gloves Explained

Asbestos-based gloves are made with chrysotile asbestos or ‘white’ asbestos. White asbestos is the most common form of asbestos found in the United States. It’s important to know that all types of asbestos fibers are dangerous.

Asbestos was used to make gloves because it strengthened the material and made the gloves slash and tear resistant. Additionally, asbestos is very resistant to heat and could protect the hands of workers who worked around high temperatures.

Workers who may have used asbestos gloves include:

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Exposure to asbestos products like gloves 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 Gloves?

Metal and steel workers used very hot and sharp material in their work. Glass work was another job that used very high heat to shape the glass. Even potters used these gloves to take their art out of very hot kilns that hardened the clay. Asbestos gloves allowed these workers to handle the material and prevent severe burns.

When gloves received small or large cuts from sharp edges, it tore the material and potentially released asbestos fibers into the air. Working with metal or glass means a lot of sharp material. Once the fibers went airborne, the worker could breathe in the fibers.

Asbestos Gloves Released Toxic Fibers

At the time workers believed they were acting out of safety. Unfortunately, using these gloves exposed them to low levels of asbestos fibers. The older the gloves, the more fibers could become airborne. As the gloves age, more fibers scatter and are then inhaled.

Workers could also get the fibers from touching their work surface after their gloves are taken off. This meant those fibers could be moved from one spot to another. The fibers could attach to worker’s clothes, hair or hands and then transferred to others who came into contact with the worker.

How much asbestos was inhaled is relative to the size of the room. If the workroom was not well ventilated, it increased contact with asbestos. Even the difficulty of the work increased the risk because the work caused faster breathing rates. People who moved materials to and from these workrooms were also exposed to the asbestos fibers.

Glassworkers and Asbestos in Gloves

Jobs with molten glass (called glass rowing) and window repair are most likely to have been exposed to asbestos from their gloves. Glass rowing has less contact with asbestos because their gloved hands were closer to heat. People who did window repair had higher exposure because they were working with sharp edges. Those edges could cut or tear their gloves.

Health Risks of Asbestos in Gloves

Asbestos use in gloves and other products are dangerous to the human body. Most of the products that contain asbestos are off the market. It’s important to know that some homes still contain asbestos. Make sure to educate yourself to reduce your risk of contact.

There would be severe health risks if workers used asbestos gloves. These risks include: 

  • Mesothelioma (cancerous tumors in the lung, heart, abdomen and testicle linings)
  • Lung cancer (cancerous tumors inside the lung)
  • Other asbestos-related lung diseases like asbestosis (benign scar tissue in the lungs)

Studies done on asbestos gloves show that the cancer risk is 22 per 100,000 after 20 years of contact.

Patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma require specialized treatment that may include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Combining multiple targeted treatments in one personalized plan can help improve your prognosis. It’s recommended to seek the second opinion of a mesothelioma specialist before starting treatment.

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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Seeking Justice for Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos still exists in some gloves. Even though the majority of products that are made with asbestos are off the market, workers in the glass, steel, metal, or firefighting professions should stay mindful of the products they use.

If you or a loved one worked with asbestos gloves and have since been diagnosed with mesothelioma, please contact our Justice Support Team at (888) 360-4215. Or request a FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to understand available compensation for treatment costs and damages.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

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.

Last modified: May 22, 2019

View 3 Sources
  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Exposure and risks of wearing asbestos mitts”. Retrieved from: Accessed on June 14, 2018.
  2. American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal, “Occupational exposure to asbestos fibers resulting from use of asbestos gloves”. Retrieved from: Accessed on June 14, 2018.
  3. YouTube, “Asbestos Gloves in the Laboratory 1950’s”. Retrieved from: Accessed on June 14, 2018.
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