Asbestos is a material that was once widely used all around the world and in many different applications. In fact, the properties of asbestos were widely hailed as miraculous and this was due to its fire retardant properties and its low cost. Given the name asbestos by the Ancient Greeks, this material was used for many centuries, and continued to be used into the 1980s. However, as more and more evidence came to light in relation to the dangers of asbestos it quickly became of great concern all around the world.
It turns out that although the Ancient Greeks praised the versatility and fire proof properties of asbestos, they also noted the harm that this substance had done to workers. However, despite these records asbestos continued to be used throughout the years. This flexible and soft material was used in all sorts of items from insulation, one of its most popular uses, to floor and ceiling tiles, piping, and even a range of household and auto products.
During the industrial revolution, asbestos became widely used for insulation purposes thanks to its cost effectiveness and fire proof qualities. This was despite the fact that many people in the asbestos industry – management and company owners – were all too aware of the dangers of asbestos. Despite this knowledge, workers were allowed to obliviously continue working with this potentially deadly substance, unaware that many of them were slowly killing themselves by breathing in the dust and fibers from the substance.
It was not until the 1900s that the facts regarding the risks involved to workers began to re-emerge. An English physician carried out a post-mortem on a man who had worked with asbestos for many years, and he found traces of fibers and dust in the man’s lungs. The doctor stated that the man had died due to his exposure to this mineral. Over the next 20 or so years professionals in many countries began to notice the fact that disease, illness and death was uncommonly high among asbestos workers.
In the mid 1920s, an English doctor made the first diagnosis of asbestosis, and this was followed by a study, which showed that 25% of English asbestos workers showed signs of a related lung disease. Laws were then stepped up in England to provide better ventilation and more protection to workers who were regularly exposed to asbestos. These steps were slowly followed by other countries over the next decade.
One of the diseases for which asbestos is particularly well known is mesothelioma, which is a deadly form of cancer caused by asbestos fibers and dust being ingested or breathed in. This form of cancer can take up to several decades to manifest, which means that people that worked with asbestos in the 1960s, 70s and 80s could be walking around with this cancer festering but may not find out that they have it for some years.
Despite the evidence with regards to the dangers and hazards of working with asbestos, many people find themselves exposed to this substance as an occupational hazard. Although there are strict regulations in place in the USA and many other countries with regards to protection for those working with asbestos, many other countries do not have such regulations in place, endangering the lives of many people unnecessarily.
Over recent years, many asbestos companies and related companies have been sued by those that have fallen victim to the hazards of asbestos. In many cases this was because the victims had been allowed to continue working with asbestos despite the fact that companies were all too aware of the dangers of the material. As a result many asbestos and related companies have found themselves facing multi-million dollar suits, and many have gone bankrupt altogether through asbestos litigation.
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