It’s that time of year where we dig out the Christmas decorations from the loft ready for the festive season. If you’re anything like me you may even have some antique “hand me downs” from parents or grandparents such as baubles and wreaths.
However, vintage baubles and other festive ornaments could be covered with asbestos in the form of fake snow made from pure asbestos, experts claim.
And they fear that each year when the decorations are put up at Christmas time the potentially fatal particles could be spread throughout the house, putting anyone living there at risk.
Concerns centre around decorations dating back to the 1930s and 1940s when asbestos-based fake snow was popular in department stores and homes.
The fake snow was made out of pure asbestos powder and had brand names such as Pure White, White Magic and Snow Drift. It was used by manufacturers of Christmas decorations on baubles, statues and wreaths or even in boxes for people to decorate items around the house themselves.
Although the production of the asbestos snow was stopped during the Second World War it is thought that homes all over the country could still be using the vintage decorations without realising the potentially deadly implications.
The UK Asbestos Training Association, the body responsible for ensuring asbestos safety in homes and workplaces, has previously issued a warning to bin any Christmas decorations that might contain fake snow but it is good to remind people of the dangers so that people are warned what to look out for and how to dispose of it safely.
Craig Evans, manager of the UK Asbestos Training Association, said: “In the 1930s and 1940s asbestos was used in abundance to create fake snow - products called Pure White, White Magic and Snow Drift common in department stores and even in people’s homes.”
“Children played with it. Anyone who had any contact with this material was inhaling asbestos fibres in quantities normally associated only with those who worked in asbestos mines.”
“The use of asbestos-based fake snow stopped with the Second World War when tonnes of asbestos was needed for insulation on ships, planes and other military uses.
“But Christmas decorations it was used on may still exist”
“Households up and down the country may still have decorations from that era that they keep in the loft until Christmas comes round.
“People might be completely oblivious to the fact that each year they could be running the risk of inhaling the deadly asbestos fibres from their vintage decorations…”
"Our warning is to replace any antique decorations that have fake snow on them with new decorations. They might not look quite as nice but they are guaranteed to be safe," he continued.
“Anyone who thinks they have asbestos-laced decorations should contact their local authority which can advise on how to dispose of them in the proper way.”
“Asbestos in Christmas decorations is not something many people will be thinking of this festive season but it’s a very serious danger that should not be underestimated.”
The UK has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma - an incurable type of cancer caused by asbestos - in the world with around 2,500 people being diagnosed each year.
If you or someone you love has developed an asbestos related disease, contact the expert solicitors at Stephensons today. Our dedicated team of asbestos related disease and mesothelioma solicitors, can provide you with some free initial no obligation legal advice, call us on 01616 966 229.