Flashback: Asbestos Used in Textiles

Raw asbestos can be spun and woven into material fabrics and clothes. This is in view of its small and fibrous nature that also makes them tough enough to resist high temperatures, fires, and destructive substances. However, this doesn’t mean that they are indestructible- they can be cut or torn. The fire resistant quality of asbestos has made it a perfect material to use in protective clothes, for example, protective jackets for firefighters and the mitts and aprons worn by foundry workers. Weaving asbestos strands alongside other fibers enhanced the tensile strength of fabric products.

Despite the fact that the utilization of asbestos in fabrics can be dated back to 2500 B.C., it wasn’t until the late 1800s that it was mass produced in the US. One of the first firms to make asbestos materials was Johns Manville, which started working on it the year 1884. As the demand for asbestos products accelerated – and with it being woven using the same technique as cotton some textile plants that were constructed to process cotton were changed over to asbestos processing plants during the early 1900s.


Different grades of asbestos strands of were blended in a fiber blender as per details of the proposed product. The filaments are then made into a fiber mat. The mat is pressed and layered to form an arrangement of fiber mats known as a lap. The lap is then used to make thin ribbons known as roving. At this step, other strands like cotton or rayon can be included. The roving is spun further to form a yarn. The yarn is which can produce thread. The thread can now be processed into the many different products such as clothing, rope, wicking or even tape.

In the US, the Carolinas were especially instrumental in the business. There were huge deposits of naturally occurring asbestos in both the North and the South, and plants were built up in previous cotton factories close to the mines. One such plant was the Southern Asbestos Manufacturing Company plant in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1920, the firm bought a cotton processing plant and changed it over into an asbestos plant that produced yarn and fabric. In only two years, the firm’s profits dramatically multiplied.

The utilization of asbestos in making fabric and clothes declined because asbestos is poisonous. Presently, a wide range of fire resistant materials are utilized in the manufacture of fabrics and protective clothing. While people in this day and age are searching for safe asbestos removal Sydney for their homes and commercial buildings – a little more difficult than throwing out a jacket.


When asbestos material fabric and protective garments get to be worn, the poisonous filaments woven into the fabric are discharged into the air. Asbestos material can be produced using as much as 100 percent pure asbestos. If used in making garments, the percentage can vary greatly. Clothes intended to be worn in compelling temperatures will have a higher rate. Although these pieces of clothing are not usually friable, when damaged they can get to be friable. Asbestos fabric in its crude form is considered friable, particularly if utilized as thermal protection.

Laborers in foundries, steel plants and glassworks used to wear asbestos clothing to shield them from high temperatures and burns while working in extreme temperatures. Defensive attire used to comprise of aprons, coats, gloves and leggings. Workers who worked in the furnaces and remained along the path of molten material for long hours wore coats and leggings made from asbestos during the process of casting.

An examination of the quality of air in these plants found that over the span of the work day, asbestos apparel routinely produced filaments and made workers vulnerable. If the apparel was not in proper condition, there was a higher probability that the fiber count would be more. In common use, the protective attires get worn out or cut by bits of sharp metal in these plants and produce more fiber. Firefighters also utilized these coats and gloves to shield them from flame and heat. The clothes get exposed to high temperatures and abrasion.

Nevertheless, the occupation that is most vulnerable from these items was the material plant, worker. This to a great degree because of the dusty conditions from processing raw asbestos. This led to respiratory diseases in these workers. As a matter of fact, one of the first health claims of asbestosis was filed by a material factory laborer in the year 1927.