Asbestos in Textile Cloths and Garments

Manufacturers preferred to include asbestos in textile because it had a fireproof range of up to 1600 degrees Fahrenheit. This, in turn, makes the fabrics resistant to higher temperatures. This provided useful for a variety of things like electrical fires, flames and corrosive chemical substances. 

Used for Protective Clothing

These fabrics were commonly used for protective clothing. For example, jackets for firefighters or aprons and mitts of those who work in the foundry could all be expected to include these asbestos-containing fabrics. Unfortunately, this also increased exposure to asbestos. 

Commercial Production Begins

Use of asbestos-containing products can be traced to the time of Caesar, but these products were not used in the United States until the second half of the 19th century. Johns Manville became one of the first producers of these products, first manufacturing it as a cloth in 1884. The demand quickly grew and as this happened, several textile mills were converted into producers for asbestos-based cloth making. In particular, the Carolinas had large deposits of this mineral. 

Some of the companies known for the production of these textiles included:

  • Nicolet
  • Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing
  • Pacor Inc
  • Uniroyal
  • Koppers Co. Inc.
  • Garlock Inc.
  • GAF Corporation

Dangerous Substance

Whenever these fibers were worn, unfortunately, the microscopic fibers were released into the air where they were inhaled into the lungs. Later, this could cause mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. In some cases, this cloth was made entirely from asbestos-based products. When used in garments, the percentage of asbestos varied. While not initially friable, as soon as they become damaged, they could be friable, especially if used as a type of thermal insulation. This occurred because the heat would damage the cloth and lead to asbestos fibers being released into the air where they were inhaled. Working in the factories also led to exposure to some of the dangers of this substance. Those who worked within the mills were at the highest risk of exposure because they worked with asbestos commonly. 

Some of the professions with higher risk for exposure to asbestos included furnace operators, engineers, steel mill workers, loom fixers, pipefitters and shipbuilders. These asbestos-containing products were also used for home goods like oven mitts and ironing boards. Any of these could cause exposure to a substance that can be extraordinarily deadly.