Last month, The Washington Post and the World Carbon Database Organization’s blog both covered a news story citing a report that estimated that some 10 million of the 55 million hair dryers sold since 1974 have asbestos linings. Further research concluded that some of these dryers emit potentially dangerous levels of asbestos particles when used.
Fortunately, it turned out to be an elaborate April Fool’s joke – the article was 30 years old.
But the part that’s no joke? The article still was based on factual, accurate (albeit outdated) research.
Asbestos was so widely used for so long that many of us don’t know the extent to which it surrounds us. It’s present in the ceilings and walls of our schools and homes, our cars, and even household appliances. (You can see a list of products that contain asbestos here, as well as this list compiled by the Minnesota Department of Health.)
What’s worse, is that asbestos still is legal to use in the U.S., thus compounding the potential “asbestos timebomb” already around us. The rate of asbestos use recently has declined only because of legal liability, rather than an actual ban. Meanwhile, the material continues to affect thousands of people in the country annually, sometimes even as a result of second hand exposure.
This nation’s asbestos problem has been known for decades, and it’s not getting any better. It’s time that we quit joking, make our voices heard and make a BAN a reality.