It’s a common belief that people who suffer from asbestos-related illnesses worked in construction or shipyards. Most people wouldn’t associate it with having worked in a theater.
However, from the 1950s through the 1980s, manufacturers used asbestos to make the theater curtains that they produced fire resistant. They made these curtains look like the luxurious red velvet curtains of yesteryear.
Why theaters needed fire-resistant curtains
A series of fires broke out in the early part of the 20th century. Often, they occurred when stage lights touched the scenery.
These “safety curtains” or “fire curtains” were designed to help keep any fire that broke out on stage from spreading to the audience and trapping them in the theater. Facilities that once utilized these curtains weren’t only limited to movie theaters. Other venues where stage shows and concerts occurred used them too.
Theater owners have replaced many of these grand old movie theaters with multiplexes. However, some of those old movie theaters still in use have these curtains made with asbestos.
Who could be at risk?
The curtains don’t typically pose a risk until they wear out or tear, and asbestos fibers escape into the air when this happens. They can affect people like:
- Stage crews and managers
- Light and sound technicians
- Maintenance workers
They can also affect other theater employees as well as safety inspectors. Because asbestos fibers can easily stick to clothes and bodies, they can cause workers to bring them home to their loved ones as well.
If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you may not have associated it with working in a theater. If you or your loved one did work around these large, heavy curtains, it’s wise to talk with an attorney and determine what your options are for seeking compensation.