Hair dryers containing the mineral asbestos were not uncommon amidst the material’s primary usage periods. Its success at insulating heat and resisting fire were phenomenal and putting it to use in a device designed to generate heat in the home seemed sensible and safety conscious. Unfortunately, the asbestos-containing hair dryer exposed people to the danger of inhaling asbestos fibers. This was due to the high stresses the device put on the material itself combined with the way it projected dangerous particles directly at the user. Inhalation was almost inevitable given the combination of circumstances.
The hair dryer may have been an unfortunate source of conditions associated with asbestos, such as the cancer mesothelioma. As a simple household appliance it was staggeringly easy to find. Unfortunately many owners ignored warning labels or purchased models that simply had none, even while many of the manufacturers were already aware of its risks. The material remained cheap to use, as well as the most effective option for its overall cost. So for an appliance meant to use electrically heated metal to project warm air, economic profit dictated its continued application for quite some years, even after the danger was known.
If you encounter any older model hair dryers, those that were manufactured before 1980, do not under any circumstances use them, or even move them. Leave them enclosed and seek professionals to remove the appliance safely and make sure the area hasn’t been saturated with the fibers as it is. There is no reason to risk your health in their handling and there do exist agencies to deal with this exact problem, since asbestos was once such a widely-used material.