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Put those old holiday decorations away for good

Could those vintage holiday decorations that you love so much be putting your entire family's health in danger?

Maybe.

Years ago, nobody thought twice about using products made from asbestos in their homes because everybody thought that the material was safe. They had no idea that the fibers act like a ticking bomb in the body -- causing lung disease, like mesothelioma and asbestosis, decades later.

During the holidays, it wasn't unusual to see people decorate fireplace mantels, Christmas trees and wreaths with fake "snow" that was actually formed from asbestos. The fluffy white stuff was considered a vastly safer option than cotton if people wanted to emulate the look of snow on their decorations.

Even if you no longer have any of the fake snow still sitting around, that doesn't mean your vintage ornaments and decorative items are asbestos-free. The asbestos fibers can still be lingering in the crevices of your decorations or settled in the boxes you use for their storage. Remember: There's no such thing as a safe amount of asbestos exposure. Even a tiny amount of residue can be a major problem.

Aside from the potential of asbestos still lingering among your vintage decor, you also have another reason to leave the old baubles alone. The attic you have them stored in may very well be filled with insulation that contains asbestos. Much of the loose-fill insulation that was widely in use by homeowners and builders until the 1970s contained asbestos or materials that could be contaminated with asbestos. It's better not to disturb any of that material that's lying around as you dig out old boxes.

If you're suffering from an asbestos-related illness, talk to an attorney about the kinds of compensation that are available for you.

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