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Thursday 12 January 2023

Trust the Science


How often is the trusted science of one day, the horror story of a future day?

"For many years, asbestos has been utilised worldwide in a commercial setting, due to its cheap cost and its many sought after properties. Most famously used in the construction trade, asbestos has made an appearance in many successful movies – most notably The Wizard of Oz 1939 version.

Since the latter part of the 19th century, many people have used asbestos in an attempt to create artificial snowy scenes for many different purposes. These have included the use in films, theatre productions, and department stores.

In the famous poppy field scene in The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion and Tin Man are stood around Dorothy as she lays unconscious, the snow that was cascading down onto them was in fact chrysotile, a.k.a white asbestos fibres.

... Up until the 1920s, cotton was the primary ingredient in fake snow. Although relatively harmless, the cotton posed as a high fire risk which led firefighters to recommend the use of asbestos, as a fire retardant alternative."

Though it was known that asbestos might have some dangers, it was considered safer than cotton, which could easily catch on fire, therefore its use was recommended. Think about that. Incredible. 

Doubly incredible is how often things that some people recognized were dangerous at the time they were being used, were used by others and considered safe for completely different reasons.

Maybe the next time someone tells you that a common-place thing is dangerous, this account will give you pause to at least consider that they may have a point. Just because something is considered safe by many, doesn't mean it is. It may just be that it is cheaper than some alternative, or that the user does not really understand how dangerous it really is. 

What other things, recommended as safe, might our future descendants be looking on in horror that we put in or near our bodies? There will be people today who are completely aware of how dangerous they are, even though most people just accept them as safe. Such is how it often happens with human beings. 



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