The main reason asbestos enjoyed such widespread use for decades was because it is a poor heat conductor, making it extremely fire resistant. For centuries, individuals were aware that asbestos-containing products could withstand fire. Even as long ago as during the early Roman Empire, asbestos was known for its fire resistance and was used in items that demanded those properties.

Textile products were one of the first products made with asbestos. Typically, asbestos was woven into or sprayed on textiles in order to make them fire-retardant. Asbestos textiles were valued for their flexibility, versatility, and durability and were used in numerous applications, including:

  • welding blankets and curtains
  • packing components
  • textile clothing
  • roofing textiles
  • textile cloths
  • heat- and fire-resistant fabrics

Asbestos Textiles & Protective Clothing

One of the most widespread uses of textiles with asbestos in the twentieth century was in the manufacture of protective clothing. Specifically, asbestos textile clothing was used to protect workers from being burned in jobs that required constant exposure to dangerous high temperatures. Because asbestos was known for its excellent heat resistant properties, it seemed to be the best and most logical choice for inclusion in protective clothing. Industries that commonly used asbestos-containing protective gear included:

  • power plants
  • steel mills
  • paper mills
  • chemical manufacturers
  • oil refineries
  • glass makers
  • firefighters

Up until the 1980s, many different kinds and pieces of protective clothing were made with asbestos textiles. However, mittens, or gloves, were among the most common. Mittens made with asbestos textiles were extremely useful for protecting workers’ hands from burns when handling extremely hot equipment or items. On the other hand, records show that these protective mittens were sometimes made with 40% asbestos.

When asbestos textile mittens were brand new, they were safe to use. However, as the mittens became worn or damaged, asbestos fibers could potentially be released into the air. Once asbestos fibers enter the body through inhalation, it is impossible to expel them. Often, inhaled asbestos fibers become lodged in the chest area and cause inflammation. Eventually, the inflammation may develop into mesothelioma, a cancer affecting the lining around the lungs.

If you were diagnosed with a serious illness after being exposed to textiles containing asbestos, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. 

Published November 17, 2011 by