Glass Manufacturing Risks: Asbestos Mitts
Back in the days before much was known about the health implications of asbestos, it was a commonly used fiber to provide insulation. It was used in houses as heat insulation because of its effectiveness, but also because of its flame retardant qualities. These qualities also made the fiber ideal for use by glass blowers to protect their hands from the intense heat of the furnace they use regularly.
Wearing asbestos mitts all day causes an extreme health risk to glass workers. There are many potential health hazards of using asbestos-containing mitts:
Heat-protective mitts and mittens manufactured from asbestos cloth can pose a health hazard, as the toxic mineral has been linked to numerous adverse health complications including mesothelioma and lung cancer. Microscope asbestos fibers can be released into the air during routine use of asbestos-containing mitts or mittens, especially if the mitts and mittens are torn, snagged, aged or in poor condition.
Airborne asbestos fibers are extremely lightweight and can easily be inhaled or ingested by workers or bystanders. Asbestos fibers used in protective mitts and mittens may appear white, green, blue or gray-green, and can be released into the air in the form of a light dust. Long-term or repeated exposure to asbestos fibers in the air, especially in areas with poor ventilation, can cause fibers to become embedded in lung tissue. Inhaled or ingested asbestos may lead to lung disease, mesothelioma or other types of cancer.
Asbestos is no longer used to make protective mitts due to its dangerous effects on the health of workers. However, this doesn’t mean that a glass blowing business may have a real old pair stowed away that someone could come across and not recognize. Like mentioned above, the fiber may appear white, blue, or green and can easily be released into the air as fine dust. It would be in the best interest of everyone employed at a glass manufacturing workshop to keep a sharp eye out for any asbestos lined safety equipment.
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