Many people are aware of the common places where asbestos has been found, such as in insulation, drywall, and automotive parts. But asbestos has shown up in some lesser-known and somewhat surprising places too. As a result, in the past, some people may have unknowingly exposed themselves to asbestos, which can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis, while doing chores around the home or using everyday products such as asbestos exposure through a hand-held hairdryer.
Asbestos in Blow Dryers
Asbestos is a mineral with some widespread industrial and other applications because of its desirable physical properties. Asbestos is relatively cheap and highly fire-resistant – leading to its use in various products which produce heat as part of their applications. Originally used as a safety measure, people started noticing adverse medical effects on those exposed to the substance.
Accordingly, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued statements to increase public awareness of asbestos hazards in various products over the years, as well as issuing some bans on the use of asbestos in these items.
One place where you may have least expected to find asbestos is in a handheld hair blow dryer. Blow dryers were often manufactured using asbestos due to its fire-resistant properties. Since hair dryers use forced heated air to dry the customer’s hair, asbestos was used as an insulator to withstand the high temperatures.
When Asbestos Was Used
It is estimated that 90% of hair dryers manufactured through the late 1970s contained asbestos. This was particularly concerning for hairdressers who were exposed to the material consistently in the course of their employment. Talcum powder exposure, often used by the industry, could also be a contributing factor.
Interestingly, a photographer discovered hair dryers emitted asbestos fibers. The photographer was drying film negatives with a blow dryer and noted small flecks of dust on the negatives, which turned out to be asbestos. It was found that exposure to asbestos using a hairdryer was comparable to—or even higher than—exposure near construction sites. As a result, many people grooming themselves in their own homes may have unintentionally exposed themselves while using this tool.
A 1979 study noted that while health risks from the occasional use of asbestos-containing hair dryers were less than risks associated with routine on-the-job asbestos exposure, such as with the demolition of buildings, the large number of consumers using hair dryers still posed a potential problem. According to the study, this should have been reason enough to stop asbestos use in hair dryers.
In response, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) asked the 10 leading manufacturers of home hair dryers to a conference to discuss whether asbestos in hair dryers was a health hazard. Later that year, the CPSC approved proposals from the major manufacturers to repair, replace or refund hand-held hair dryers that contained asbestos.
For example, General Electric agreed to retrofit all asbestos-containing hair dryers with a non-asbestos insulator. If not possible, GE agreed to replace the hair dryer or offer a credit towards the purchase of another model. Other companies either replaced, refunded, or repaired models containing asbestos. In addition, toll-free telephone lines and operators were offered to the public to answer any questions regarding asbestos in hair dryers.
By 1980, blow dryer manufacturers stopped using asbestos as insulation in their products. Many blow dryers that contained asbestos were also recalled. Yet some older equipment is still used in salons.
Is Asbestos in Hair Dryers Still a Concern?
Although hairdryers containing asbestos were recalled decades ago, there still might be cause for concern.
With the recent trend in collecting “vintage” products, people might unwittingly expose themselves to asbestos in both hand-held and other hair dryers. For example, a simple search for “vintage hair dryers” on eBay yields over 1,600 results. Certainly, thousands of these products are still being bought, sold, or used from eBay or other similar websites. So public awareness is still very much a concern.
Moreover, others might still be concerned about previous exposure in the workplace or otherwise.
Mesothelioma from Asbestos in Hair Dryers
Hairdressers and anyone who regularly used blow dryers in the 1960s and 1970s should watch for any mesothelioma symptoms. These might include chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, or fatigue.
Mesothelioma is a terminal condition. Although some treatments are available, the condition is usually aggressive and deadly. There currently is no cure. More information about mesothelioma can be found here.
It may take decades for symptoms to appear and the condition(s) to develop. Because of the delay in symptoms, the total surgical removal of the cancerous growth is normally impossible. Other treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, are sometimes used but with varying results.
Simply put, early detection can save lives. If you worked in a salon as a hairdresser or regularly used products that contained asbestos, you should inform your doctor of your exposure immediately. A timely diagnosis can mean the difference between effective treatment and death.
Asbestos Lawsuits Filed Against Blow Dryer Manufacturers
Although manufacturers no longer use asbestos as insulation in handheld blow dryers, asbestos attorneys are still exploring compensation for victims of asbestos exposure from these and other products.
Mesothelioma victims who had asbestos exposure through hair dryers can seek compensation with the help of asbestos attorneys through the judicial system. To file a claim, plaintiffs would most likely need some or all of the following:
- Proof of their medical condition through medical records.
- Proof of exposure through employment or other records.
- Hair dryer product information.
- Witness testimony.
- Proof of purchase, such as an invoice.
- Physician’s expert opinion linking asbestos exposure to the condition.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation. Fill out our free case evaluation to see if you qualify.
Our attorneys specialize in asbestos-related cases and can answer any questions you may have. We are an expert plaintiff firm that has recovered billions of dollars for our clients. Contact us today to learn more.