At one point, asbestos was considered a manufacturer’s go-to material. Since it was both cheap and easily accessible, manufacturers used it in almost 5,000 consumer products. This fibrous material was used in everything from coffee pots and toasters to hair dryers and irons. This substance was even used in popcorn poppers. Though the health hazards of asbestos have come to be widely known since its initial use in such small appliances, some of those asbestos-containing products may still be in use today.
When used in the manufacturing of popcorn poppers, asbestos was employed for its heat-resistant properties. The substance can stand up to extreme temperatures, which is why it was often used in making fire-protective clothing. In small appliances like popcorn poppers, it was used to insulate wires and provide protection from heat.
Some may wonder how the asbestos can get out of such small appliances to cause harm. One way of this leakage is through frayed wiring. Asbestos fibers that escape from frayed wires can escape without notice and quickly become airborne. Once airborne, the particles can be inhaled, leading to potentially serious health consequences. The fibers can even be unwittingly ingested. Additionally, asbestos found in older popcorn poppers can pose health risks to repairmen, escaping during disassembly.
Many individuals assume that new popcorn poppers and other small appliances are free from asbestos. This is only partially true. Modern appliances sold in the United States do not contain the carcinogen; however some other countries do not regulate asbestos or asbestos-containing problems. For example, popcorn poppers purchased in some South American countries may contain the potentially dangerous substance. Furthermore, individuals who collect old or antique appliances may find themselves face to face with the deadly material.
It is important to realize that avoiding old popcorn poppers isn’t likely to shield a person from all asbestos exposures. Most people come in contact with it at some point, without even knowing it’s there. The carcinogen is present in the air and in water. It is also present in soil. However, its levels in such cases are very low. Typically, people do not become sick from such types of exposure. Instead, it is those who come into contact with high levels of asbestos on a daily basis who are most at risk. Usually, these people are exposed at their jobs. For example, a person who works in a plant that manufactures asbestos-containing popcorn poppers would be more at risk. Still, there is no way to know for sure that any level of exposure is safe.