Happy Holidays; or Alternative Exposure to Asbestos Snow

With the holiday season upon us, I came across a vintage picture of asbestos snow. There were several manufacturers of asbestos snow, which used to be a product that provided some ambiance to Christmas trees. Common brands were Pure White, Snow Drift and White Magic. The directions called for sprinkling the powder freely over and beneath your tree. It was also used by manufacturing companies to decorate any type of Christmas decoration you can think of — from tree ornaments to wreaths that hung in family homes and also on doors. It was not uncommon for children to play with the white powdery substance covering their Christmas trees or little Christmas villages, and I’m sure there were constant reminders of parents to their children to keep their fingers out of the fake snow. Asbestos snow was a common household item and consumer product in the 1930s and 40s. It appears that production of asbestos snow was stopped with the war effort, where asbestos was needed more and more to insulate ships and planes. However, exposure to the asbestos snow may still be happening today. How many of us have old Christmas decorations handed down from generation to generation that we dust off each year to display? That old porcelain light up tree that used to be in Grandma’s house may have asbestos snow on its branches. Hollywood also was in on the action, with asbestos snow being used in The Wizard of OZ, where Dorothy falls asleep in the poppy field, and in the Christmas classic Holiday Inn, where Bing Crosby sings “White Christmas.”

Coming across the picture of the old asbestos snow reminded me of just how prevalent asbestos was, and not just in an industrial setting. Its fireproof qualities made it ideal for many various applications, including that little extra touch on the Christmas tree by those hot lights. (Cotton had been previously used by homeowners, but its flammable nature curtailed its use). The widespread use of asbestos in various products is a good thing to keep in mind for defendants looking for alternative exposure. Take-home exposure asbestos cases are quickly becoming an increasingly more common type of action across the country. The next time a spouse who developed lung cancer or mesothelioma is being deposed about how they laundered their spouses dirty work clothes, perhaps a few questions about the family Christmas decorations may be in order to determine if they or their parents powered their tree each year with some asbestos snow. The development of such testimony may seem insignificant, but could help to paint a picture to a jury if the case goes to trial of just how widespread the use of asbestos was. It could also help to dispute the general awareness of the health hazards of asbestos. After all, if it was so widely known that asbestos was a health hazard, why were department stores using it to create fake snow drifts by Santa and his elves?

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from all of us at Asbestos Case Tracker.

*Image courtesy of “Asbestorama”