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Five Unusual Asbestos Facts You Might Not Know

Asbestos Name Origin

Asbestos, asbestos, asbestos—the word is used frequently in many different environments, but where did it come from? In the early 17th century the word asbestos came into existence. Formed from Greek and Latin origins roughly meaning ‘unquenchable’, the word came from philosophers. The name was given to reflect asbestos’ invincibility to heat that would be found in Greek fire pits.

Asbestos Isn’t a Man-Made Product

Surprisingly, many people believe asbestos is a man-made material but in fact it’s a naturally occurring mineral. It has been mined for centuries and is still a large industry in many countries. The silicate mineral is still mined in nations such as Russia, China, Brazil and Kazakhstan. Last year a massive two million tonnes were mined globally.

Asbestos was used as Snow in The Wizard of Oz

We’re not kidding, before the dangers of asbestos were known, it was used as a fake snow product and Christmas decoration. Its astounding heat-resistance meant companies could market it as a low fire risk and the film The Wizard of Oz even utilised it as a prop.

Asbestos was in Oral Hygiene Products

This may seem surprising considering the negative impact asbestos has on health, but after the Second World War, a brand of toothpaste included asbestos for its abrasive fibres. Ipana toothpaste was created by Bristol-Meyers and was extremely popular in the 1950s. An actor from the film Grease sang the advert’s jingle while Disney created a character to be the product’s mascot!

Asbestos in an Operating Theatre?

Seriously, asbestos was used by surgeons to close wounds following the Second World War. If you were having heart or lung surgery you may find that your delicate incisions would be closed with an asbestos thread—an unusual choice as asbestos is linked to lung problems!

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