Iron rests are a product that once saw relatively common use as an appliance accessory for ironing clothing.  Primarily spread throughout households, but also seeing use in dry cleaning or other major laundering sites, their premise was fairly simple. An iron grows very hot during use and one can’t always wait for it to properly cool before leaving it when other matters arise. Distractions or emergencies could leave it unattended while still hot, easily inviting accidents or fires if it were to touch flammable materials for too long. Iron rests were developed as simple heat resistant surfaces on which to leave a heated iron while the user waited for it to cool.

For decades in the early half of the twentieth century these were usually composed of the most suitable heat resistant material in use.  Asbestos naturally provided both heat and fire resistance. A small surface of the mineral was easy to procure for keeping an iron insulated from the material beneath it while still hot. While generally they were far less risky than many other asbestos products, iron rests could become hazardous if they cracked, scratched, or otherwise released dust into the air, bringing about the same health consequences as any other form of asbestos exposure.

The diseases and cancers that can be caused by asbestos should never be taken lightly. These asbestos-containing iron rests saw a good deal of use once and, if damaged or broken, should be handled only by those skilled in asbestos removal. While fire risks are also not to be taken lightly, thus the original need for the product, asbestos-containing iron rests should not be used if found. Just as irons should be used responsibly, asbestos should be removed in the same fashion.

Reference:

EPA

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