For decades, with an increase around the World War II era, asbestos was used to increase fire-resistance in products like glassblower mitts. These mitts were used to protect the hands of glassblowers while working with extremely hot substances and fire. Before the late 1970’s these mitts contained asbestos, though asbestos is no longer used in protective clothing manufactured in the United States.
The fibers of asbestos are known for their durability and strength. Before the risks of asbestos were known, many companies utilized the mineral in a variety of products. However, research has shown that asbestos can cause major pulmonary complications like mesothelioma. Toxic exposure to asbestos is a simple as inhaling even a small amount of the tiny asbestos fibers.
The families of glassblowers who wore asbestos mitts and the families of workers who manufactured these mitts are also at risk. The mitts are safe as long as they remain completely intact. However, glassblowers will often use the same pair of mitts for many years, and eventually they will fray or become otherwise damaged. This is when deadly asbestos fibers are released into the air. The fibers can be transported easily on clothing, hair and skin, affecting all those who came into contact with a person who handled asbestos products without protection.
Even trace amounts of asbestos exposure may cause mesothelioma. Whether an individual manufactured glassblower mitts, used the mitts, or simply lived with someone who used or manufactured them, he or she could be a risk of developing life-threatening complication due to asbestos exposure.