Here's a note I published on FB as a result of seeing the reader's message.
Will your vintage Christmas decorations kill you?
The Asbestos Institute, which makes their money training asbestos abatement/removal professionals, published an article in 2020 claiming that they probably will. Countless other sites have plagiarized the article, so you may see it in one form or another.
I learned about this when a reader who inherited a simple vintage light strand wrote me in a panic.
According to the article, even products that were not made using asbestos are "probably" contaminated, since they were "most likely" stored with products that did use asbestos. Or in an attic with blown-in insulation that contains asbestos.
In their point of view, if you have ANY Christmas decorations that were made before, say 1970, or EVER stored in an attic with blown-in insulation, you should assume they're contaminated and call an asbestos abatement/removal professional to have them professionally disposed of at your expense. (Just bagging them up and sending them to a landfill would technically be illegal.)
True, the fake asbestos snow that was popular mid-century is VERY dangerous. And decorations that were frosted with asbestos-infused paint (to give a "frosty" texture) are dangerous if they chip or flex. So you should take precautions with anything that seems to contain asbestos, or anything that shows signs of being stored with or contaminated with such items.
But the notion of paying professionals to dispose of ANYTHING over 50 years old "just in case" seems a little like the nice folks at the Asbestos Institute may be "drumming up business."
Despite the hundreds of thousands of people who display vintage Christmas decorations year after year with no apparent ill effect, asbestos regulations are so strict and broad that I could be held criminally liable if I said that any lights or decorations that don't show any signs of asbestos or asbestos contamination would probably be perfectly safe if you just take them outside and cleaned them with a damp rag that you subsequently throw away. So I won't say that.
That's not saying that all vintage Christmas decorations are safe to use. Here's an article I wrote some years ago on the topic of Christmas decorations I grew up with that I'd never allow in my home today. https://familychristmasonline.com/trees ... ations.htm