BBC Antiques Roadshow criticised over asbestos containing gas mask

BBC Antiques Roadshow criticised over asbestos containing gas mask

The BBC have had to apologise after airing an episode last week featuring a Second World War gas mask, which is believed to contain deadly asbestos.

A woman brought the mask onto the programme in the hope of learning more about where it had come from and if it held any value.

But upon discovering that these masks were infact generally made using asbestos, bosses at the BBC have since had to apologise and warn people of the dangers.

Campaigners made complaints directly to the BBC and questioned why the programme featuring the asbestos ridden gas mask was aired to the public.

One such Campaigner form Asbestos Heritage, Sarah Walters, said, “We were shocked at the casual way the asbestos mask was handled without even the slightest warning to viewers.”

“More than 2,500 people are dying every year from mesothelioma from asbestos.  Not once was asbestos mentioned or a warning given.”

“We worry seriously about children seeking them out and trying them on.”

Another asbestos campaigner and sufferer, Mavis Nye, also made a complaint to the BBC following the show.

Mavis said, “The HSE has warned schools of the dangers of gas masks and carried out tests on vintage gas masks.”

“The majority contained asbestos in the filters, often blue asbestos.”

“They said only a minority of those tested did not contain asbestos and it was not possible to say which models do, or do not, contain asbestos.”

“I sincerely hope this is never repeated on the BBC.”

BBC Antiques Roadshow criticised over asbestos containing gas mask - a world war 2 gas mask

BBC speaks out in response to backlash

Exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to developing cancer in the lungs many years after initial exposure.

A spokesman for the BBC replied to the public and asbestos campaigners saying, “Thanks for bringing this to our attention.  We have been in touch with the owner of the item and passed on the information.  we will make sure that viewers are aware of the potential danger if we feature gas masks in the future.”

The lady owner who appeared on the show said that she only paid £25 for the gas mask, but was later told it could be worth as much as £100.

The Health and Safety Executive have advised the public that they should never try on or wear an antique gas mask because of the high risk of inhaling asbestos fibers.

A HSE representative said, “Following tests which have found asbestos to be present in Second World War artefacts, we advise that gas masks should not be worn because of risks to health. Artefacts should be stored or kept safely, just as they would be in museums.”


Source of article: by Janet Boyle


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Published Oct 03, 2016

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