For many years, asbestos mitts, also called gloves, were used in occupations that involved extremely high temperatures. For example, these mitts were used by ironworkers, welders and those in glass-making occupations. They were even used in firefighting. These mitts were popular not only for their heat-resistant properties, but also for their tensile strength.
Throughout the greater 20th Century, asbestos was widely used in mitts and other types of protective clothing. However, in the latter part of the 20th Century, the general public started to become informed about the risks of asbestos and the vast number of products containing it, including asbestos mitts. These mitts, as well as many other types of protective clothing, were made with asbestos.
There is no conclusive evidence showing that any level of asbestos exposure is safe. However, some studies have led scientists to believe that exposure to lower levels of asbestos may carry less risk. Still, many believe it is best to avoid known sources of asbestos, no matter what the level of exposure would be.
Asbestos is made of fibrous crystals. These long, thin crystals can be woven into fabric to make flexible, heat resistant clothing. In this form, asbestos may not be dangerous. It becomes dangerous when such fabric is worn, torn or aged, allowing the fibrous particles to become airborne and putting the wearer at risk of developing diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Asbestosis is a disorder that affects an individual’s breathing. It is contracted as the result of inhaling asbestos fibers. In time, enough of these fibers may accumulate in the lungs to cause scarring and breathing problems. Typically, symptoms of this disorder don’t appear for quite some time. In fact, it may take years for an individual to show signs of this disorder. However, once it develops, symptoms can be severe and the condition can become fatal if exposure continues.
Mesothelioma is another potentially fatal disease that can be caused by asbestos inhalation. Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that affects the protective sac/membranes around the body’s internal organs. When this disease affects the lungs it is called pleural mesothelioma. When it develops in abdominal tissue, it is called peritoneal mesothelioma. Rarely, this cancer affects the lining around either the heart or the testicles. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease.
It is worth noting that asbestos-related diseases don’t necessarily appear within a short time frame. An individual can live years after exposure before developing obvious symptoms of a condition related to this carcinogen.