Asbestos was used as fake snow in many old Hollywood movies

Asbestos was used as fake snow in many old Hollywood movies

In order to create winter scenes in many old Hollywood movies, film makers used pure white asbestos fibers to replicate the look of snow.

Up until the late 1920’s, film makers were known to use various methods to try and create the illusion of snow.

These methods included cotton batting, salt and flour.

But cotton was soon recognised as being a fire risk, and the LA fire department instead recommended the use of asbestos, which was considered to be risk free.

So from the 1930’s until the 1950’s, film studios used white asbestos in the form of fake snow brands such as ‘White Magic’, ‘Snow Drift’ and ‘Pure White’.

The film ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is probably the most famous film where asbestos was used.

The fake snow used in the film was actually chrysotile, also known as white asbestos.

Chrysotile was also used in the film starring Bing Crosby, ‘White Christmas’, in the famous snow scene at the end of the film.

Fortunately, by the end of the 1950’s, asbestos was no longer used to create fake snow.

An alternative method was used in the form of a sprayable foam, with ingredients that consisted of foamite, water, sugar and soap.

Asbestos was used as fake snow in many old Hollywood movies - snow scene in the Wizard of Oz

Where there any consequences?

As the fake snow consisted of pure white asbestos fibers, it proved very dangerous when inhaled.

However, as it wasn’t used frequently, people would have only encountered one time or temporary exposure, which is considered to carry much less risk that ongoing exposure.

But there would still be risks to health even with one time exposure.

As a result of prolonged exposure to asbestos, some famous Hollywood actors have died after developing the asbestos related lung disease, mesothelioma.

Perhaps the most famous of these actors is Steve McQueen.

He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 1979 and died in 1980.

He believed that stage insulation and stunt clothing containing asbestos fibers were responsible for his illness.

Ed Lauter was another famous actor that starred in hundreds of films and was best known for his role in ‘The longest yard’.

He died in 2013 from mesothelioma.  His family filed a lawsuit against the likes of CBS and NBC.

Paul Gleason is another Hollywood actor that died from mesothelioma, but not from exposure in his acting roles.

He believed he was exposed as a teenager while working in the construction industry.

He starred in films such as Die Hard, Trading Places and the Breakfast Club.

Source of article:-


Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their building so as not to put employees at risk. Contact our Armco office for asbestos management and refurbishment/ demolition surveys on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting

Alternatively, for all your asbestos training needs call 0161 761 4424 or visit for more information or to book a training course.



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Published Feb 21, 2017
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