Asbestos-bound first edition of Fahrenheit 451




Normally the lack of a dust jacket wouldn’t dissuade me from purchasing a rare first edition. But in this case…


Is asbestos dust a factor?


There’s another asbestos bound book out there: Stephen King’s Firestarter.


The true first edition was actually a paperback, which was quite common and can be found for relatively reasonable prices from time to time. This appears to be a limited special edition and quite rare. But, yeah, definitely keep it in a bag!


Asbestos dust is the very worst stuff. It drifts about and gets inhaled.


Citation needed.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says: People are more likely to experience asbestos-related disorders when they are exposed to high concentrations of asbestos, are exposed for longer periods of time, and/or are exposed more often.

Hardly the exposure you’d get for a single book cover, left mostly untouched.


Oy. Did I say the book was a problem? No, I did not.

The mechanism of asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma is believed to be mechanical, and is well understood to be effected through inhalation of the fibers. Asbestos dust is composed of short, extremely light mineral fibers that drift in the air and are easily inhaled. Smoking dramatically increases the risk associated with asbestos inhalation, and (as with all cancers) genetic factors are believed to influence the risk as well. This is all completely non-controversial, and well understood, and abundant documentation is available to you if you have an Internet connection, which is why my previous post was so brief. The less airborne versions of asbestos, like house shingles, are basically safe enough to eat - it’s the dust that’s dangerous.

Edit: removed possibly unwarranted snark, including cites from 1899 and ancient Rome.


A ziplock would abate particles no?


Anybody seen the CND earrings cast in Radium?


Sure, as long as you never opened the bag. I guess a coat of something like polyurethane varnish might do the trick, if you wanted it more readable and less collectible. But honestly I don’t even know if the book’s cover is a dust hazard in real use; I was just responding to rattypilgrim’s specific question. Well encapsulated asbestos that is not subject to abrasive wear is not dangerous.


No, although I remember the Thor’s hammers that were cast from used reactor shielding in the 1970s in College Park. Tell me more!


I’ve heard of dangerous books, but really…


Only if you breathe.


The book is so old and worn whatever asbestos fibers that might cause harm are long gone into the atmosphere. But what about the people who worked in the factory where the books were bound and covered? They must have inhaled a fair amount of the stuff.


Absolutely; millions of people have died of occupational asbestos inhalation. The families of workers who handle asbestos also have measurably higher rates of asbestos-induced cancers, as do people living downwind of asbestos quarries and factories that use asbestos. But the incubation period is about 30 years on average, so it took a while for the general public to figure it out (big businesses knew about the problem at least as early as 1929, and actively worked to cover it up until at least as late as 2007, which is why asbestos is such a big deal politically).

Old and worn asbestos containing materials are generally the worst producers of the dust, but I don’t know enough about this book or its cover to comment on it specifically. If it’s the kind of 100% asbestos sheeting that used to be in hair dryers and similar commercial products (my Dad has a roll of it) it will continuously shed dust until nothing at all remains of the material.


The asbestos type is probably Chrysotile, not chrysolite. Also called white asbsetos, it’s the most common type of asbestos.

Did you know that California state rock (Serpentine) is also asbestos? Asbestos is a great fire retardant, unfortunately, those pesky fibers aren’t so good in our lungs.


All those asbestos suits that crooks wore to foil the Human Torch turned out to be a big mistake…


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