We all know it’s bad to yell “Fire” in a crowded theater. But early in the last century, companies were actually using asbestos to try and lower the risk of a fire in many of our nation’s historic movie and play houses. Ever since theaters moved indoors, they have been prone to devastating fires. Many of the legendary theaters were destroyed by fire, including Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.
Before the arrival of modern technology, public performance spaces were not safe. With people crammed into seats, few emergency exits, and the common use of open flames that were sometimes used for lighting, theaters were fairly prone to fires.
In the early 1900s, however, new technologies such as electric light began to change the way theaters operated — and many made these facilities much safer than they had ever been before. Another modern advancement that made a fire risk less significantly was the use of asbestos curtains.
Asbestos was a popular material for most of the 20th century. It initially came into favor with the construction industry because it was effective in reducing fire dangers in new buildings that were being constructed. Moreover, asbestos is made up of tiny fibers that can be fashioned into thread and then turned into a kind of fabric, so it was easy to adapt and drape onto any material that needed fire protection.
Asbestos fibers have been used to make textiles for centuries. Legend has it that Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne actually fashioned his tablecloth from asbestos and cleaned it by throwing it in the fire. Unfortunately, what society didn’t learn for decades is that asbestos fibers are also the cause of several dangerous and deadly diseases including asbestosis and mesothelioma.
If you have been exposed to asbestos – whether in a theater or through more common means like factory work, call our convenient toll-free number 888-360-4215 to speak with a mesothelioma consultant.
With our contemporary understanding of the effects asbestos has on our health, it seems insane that humans once were using products made with the dangerous mineral alongside food. But for just a quarter, our great grandparents could have the peace of mind that asbestos was protecting their roasts from burning.
If you’ve been exposed to any form of asbestos, contact us for a no-obligation legal consultation.