Before asbestos was seen as hazardous, a Han dynasty general had a jacket made from it. He would pretend to spill wine on it at dinners. Then he’d throw it into a fire and pull it out to show it was still intact to impress his guests.
The snow scene in The Wizard of Oz (1939) used Industrial Grade Asbestos as snow. Cotton was used as fake snow until the 1920s, but was considered a fire hazard. Firefighters recommended using Asbestos because it was fire retardant.
People used to make clothes from asbestos. These garments were fireproof and people cleaned them by burning off the stains.
The September 11 terror attacks on the WTC released a dust cloud of toxic asbestos fibers across Manhattan. An estimated 410,000 people have been exposed. It is believed lung cancer and mesothelioma cases in the city will reach a peak in the year 2041 (four decades after 9/11).
Asbestos was commonly used for fake snow in early Hollywood, including the scene in the Wizard of Oz where it snows in the Poppy Field.
Asbestos in the United States has not been banned and is totally legal. When the Environmental Protection Agency tried to ban it, supporters of the asbestos industry actually overturned the ban in a lawsuit. It is still widely used in products to this day.