The resident expert enthused over the wartime mask designed to be carried in a handbag after it was brought on to the programme by a woman desperate to know more about its origins.
However the hidden health risks prompted worried campaigners to complain angrily to BBC bosses about its inclusion in the programme.
Campaigner Sarah Walters, of Asbestos Heritage, 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.”
Mesothelioma patient and campaigner Mavis Nye also complained to the BBC about the mask. She said: “The HSE has warned schools of the dangers of gas masks and carried out tests on vintage gas masks.
A BBC spokesman welcomed the concern of campaigners. He said: “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.”
Despite the object’s obvious historic significance, a spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said it would advise people never to try on an antique gas mask.
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