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Leave the vintage Christmas ornaments in the attic alone

Everybody seems to get slightly nostalgic around the winter holidays. If that sense of nostalgia has you digging through the attic for the family's vintage Christmas decorations, however, you might want to think twice.

There are actually two different potential dangers you can encounter when digging out those old ornaments and wreaths. First, you may have to climb around an old attic that's still packed with insulation that contains asbestos. Second, the holiday decorations themselves might be loaded with asbestos.

Many older homes in the snowy regions of the United States are insulated with materials that contain vermiculite. Vermiculite is often contaminated with asbestos. In many cases, the dust that gets all over everything in those old attics comes from the insulation -- which makes that dust very toxic.

Not only do you put yourself at risk going into the attic and disturbing all of that dust as you search for the vintage decorations, but you could also potentially expose your entire family to asbestos once you bring down the decoration and the dust gets into the rest of the house.

On top of that, many vintage Christmas decorations actually are made of asbestos! Remember, asbestos was once thought to be a completely harmless substance. Since it was fireproof, it made perfect sense to include asbestos in anything that might be near heat -- like those hot Christmas tree lights of yesteryear.

For example, many older readers may remember the "fake snow" that graced many mantles and gently decorated many Christmas trees when they were kids. Most of that was made from asbestos. Even if you don't have any boxes of the stuff still lurking in the attic, there's a strong possibility that the residue from that fake snow is still on the ornaments you do have.

Asbestos-related illnesses can take decades to develop. If you develop mesothelioma, asbestosis or another asbestos-related disease, find out more about compensation that's available. Our office can assist you.

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