The wonderful world of asbestos

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/09/03/the-wonderful-world-of-asbesto.html

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:notes: Come with me, and you’ll be / In a world, of pu-ure asbestos
:notes: What you’ll see will terrify / And distress us

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i grew up with the stuff. the fake snow, the shingles, in classrooms, insulating our pipes. no thank you – you can have it.

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As Dickens might have said, “It was asbestos times, it was the worst of times. . .”

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Imagine having a house built in the 50s and demanding that NO ASBESTOS be used in construction. Everyone would treat you like a nutcase for being worried about such a common product. You could respond that even the ancient Greek and Romans knew it was dangerous to health and with no internet to fact-check that, they’d say “ok, whatever, if you want your house to burn down I guess that’s up to you” and I wonder if you’d be even able to get fire insurance.

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The asbestos snow picture terrifies me, i cannot believe that was a thing people used. Well i mean i can, but what a bad idea.

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It’s undeniably a terrible plan; but there are some reasons why ‘fireproof’ might seem like a compelling christmas tree feature; especially if you are lighting the thing with candles.

https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/Video/dry-christmas-tree-vs-well-watered-christmas-tree

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It actually seemed like a good idea at the time. Christmas lights used to be very poorly made: the wiring would get hot, the insulation would break, the incandescent bulbs would get hot enough to burn paper. Christmas tree-related fires were very common. Selling a product that could be used to flock a tree (I know, I’ll never understand that desire either) that wouldn’t result in a powder ignition event probably seemed smart.

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We’re doing asbestos we can!

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If you want to literally live in Asbestos, you can: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asbestos,_Quebec.

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I believe that the eaves of my house are covered with asbestos shingles. They were a common building material at the time my house was constructed (1949). The thinking these days is that those are pretty stable, and you’re more likely to be exposed to airborne asbestos particles if you tear them down to replace them than if you just leave them in place.

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In school, our teacher would pull out a big bowl and a cardboard box and we’d all gather 'round as she scooped out mounds of asbestos “clay” - sending up a fine powdery mist in the sunlight that streamed through our classroom windows - and we’d all lean in close as she stirred the powder with water and made a stiff modelling paste, which we all got a big dollop of to each make an ashtray for a Father’s Day gift. Our grotesque blobs of love were left to dry on the classroom window ledge and the next day we’d paint them with tempera paints, bring them home and present them with great flourish and aplomb, whereupon it would be used once and then jammed up in the back of a cupboard next to the gold spray painted macaroni wreath. The shit we breathed in - I’m amazed any of us are still alive.

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I really like this asbestos derivative:

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Didn’t realize they stopped mining it, that’s a bit of good news!

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Same is true for a lot of fireproof insulation which was foamed on installations. Worked in a 70s building a while ago, everything in the supply shafts was coated. Noone was allowed to touch it, so this was neutral evil. However, any failure would have been lawful evil, and a dormouse nesting in on of those shafts would have been chaotic evil.

A major reconstruction was lawful evil with a tendency of developing to true neutral over time, but very expensive.

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Generally rule of thumb is that unless the asbestos is firable (airborne) the remediation for it is just cover it with paint/sealing material.

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Demand kind of fell once the health concerns became more apparent.

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Unfortunately demand only dropped in rich countries, these mines operated in rich countries and sold the poison to poor ones. Fucking shameful.

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