Asbestos in Hollywood

With Christmas fast approaching, decorating the house like a Santa’s grotto is something that everyone can get excited about.

Whether you’re a tinsel person, paper chain lover or just wishing for a white Christmas, we know there’s a bit of festive spirit in all of you!

Using artificial snow to cover window ledges, plants and trees has been a festive tradition since the late 19th century. Most sprays and powders are a biodegradable and environmentally friendly way to keep a house feeling fresh and festive for weeks at a time.

But did you know artificial snow used to contain asbestos?

For quite a long time in the early 20th Century, asbestos was widely used in artificial snow found in ornamental decorations or sprinkled on tree branches and wreaths. Because of its white, fluffy appearance it was the perfect substance to use — before people realised how damaging the effects of asbestos could be!
Cans of artificial snow made from asbestos used to be sold under a number of branded names such as: White Magic, Pure White, and Snow Drift, particularly throughout the late 1920s and 30s.

A number of film sets have also used chrysotile asbestos in its purest form to create the illusion of snow falling.

Iconic film scenes such as the ‘poppy field’ scene in the original Wizard of Oz and the traditional ‘flurry’ scenes of It’s A Wonderful Life are coated in artificial snow which was actually made of pure asbestos. In A Wonderful Life, 6,000 gallons of the substance was used throughout the film which stuck to the actor’s hair, clothes and skin.

The fake snow used contained 100% industrial-grade chrysotile asbestos fibres. Anybody who came into contact with the substance, whether it was one of the actor’s or a member of the crew, would have inhaled a substantial amount — similar to those who worked in asbestos mines. This is despite the fact that the health hazards of asbestos had been known for many years.

Today, there is so much more knowledge about asbestos at our disposal, compared to the limited knowledge of asbestos in centuries gone by.

You can now buy artificial snow in many different shops to sprinkle on your tree, decorate your windowsills or imitate Santa’s footprints and is now made from a patented, safe and non-toxic super-absorbent polymer developed specifically to imitate the properties of snow but in a safe and child-friendly way.

On our website you can find out more about where you can still find asbestos and what to do if you think you might be at risk. Always check the safety procedures and precautions before approaching anything you think might be dangerous.


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