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The History of the Asbestos Industry

The History of the Asbestos Industry

It was the Greeks who named this mineral asbestos, meaning inextinguishable. The ancient Greeks observed the harmful biological effects but continued to use the mineral said to have magical properties. Pliny (Roman naturalist) and Strabo (Greek geographer) noted an appearance of “sickness of the lungs” in slaves who wove asbestos into cloth. The Greeks also used asbestos for the wicks of the eternal flames of the vestal virgins, as the funeral dress worn by kings and for napkins. They were so impressed with the magical properties of the mineral that they were willing to overlook its harmful symptoms for humans. They went as far as calling asbestos “amiantus”, meaning “unpolluted.

During the middle ages, it was believed that the Frankish king, Charlemagne had asbestos tablecloths. Asbestos products were used in the 1700 hundreds but did not really become popular until the late 1800′s. The industrial Revolution demanded new uses for the mineral. It was used as insulation for steam pipes, turbines, boilers, kilns, ovens, and other high-temperature products.

The history of asbestos use continued into the twentieth century and researchers began to investigate the harmful toxic affects. It was first noticed in 1917 and 1918 that a great number of young people in asbestos mining towns prematurely died. Researchers in England carried out clinical studies on asbestos workers in 1924, after the recorded death of a young woman who had been diagnosed with the new disease they called asbestosis. Twenty-five percent of the test subjects showed evidence of asbestos-related lung disease. Legislation was enacted in 1931, to increase ventilation and to recognize asbestosis a work-related disease.

The 1930′s brought in with it, the surge of major medical research articles, warning about the asbestos connection with lung cancer partially due to a new disease, silicosis, caused by in haling silica dust particles. Much of this research continued to be ignored. Large Asbestos companies continued to use asbestos in manufacturing and construction, despite that fact that safer alternatives such as fiberglass insulation were created to replace it. These companies hid their lung cancer findings to avoid the million dollar lawsuits brought upon them by asbestos cancer victims. The history of asbestos use and company profiteering has no doubt exploited asbestos workers then and now. Today, victims exposed to asbestos are faced with mesothelioma cancer and certain death.

What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber mined from the earth. It is strong, flexible, and resistant to heat, chemicals and electrical conditions.

Forms of Asbestos
The three most common forms of asbestos are divided into two groups. The serpentine group includes white (chrysotile) asbestos. The amphibole group includes brown (amosite) and blue (crocidolite) asbestos.

Asbestos Properties
Asbestos has many properties that once made it attractive to industry. It is stable when heated, it provides strength under tension, it is resistant to chemicals and does not absorb water (depending on type of asbestos). Asbestos is suitable for weaving and can be used to reinforce materials such as concrete. And lastly, it is a good resistance to electricity.

Asbestos Categories
‘Bonded’ is used to refer to asbestos being so firmly embedded in a material that these materials are unlikely to release measurable levels of asbestos fiber into the air if they are left undisturbed. Therefore, they generally pose a lower risk to health.

Bonded asbestos-containing materials include asbestos cement products (flat and corrugated sheeting used in walls, ceilings and roofs, molded items such as down pipes), vinyl floor coverings.

‘Friable’ is used to refer to asbestos-containing materials that can be easily reduced to powder by hand, when dry. These materials are more likely to release measurable levels of asbestos into the air when disturbed, and generally pose a greater risk to health. Friable asbestos-containing materials include sprayed asbestos fire retardants

Asbestos Industry
In the past, the asbestos industry used around 3000 products manufactured worldwide, most commonly in the construction, car manufacturing and textile industries. It was generally manufactured in the following forms: fibrous (limpet asbestos), woven (cloth, tape or sleeving), wound (rope) or mixed with a binder, such as calcium silicate (to make asbestos cement or vinyl floor products containing asbestos).

Because of its strength and its ability to resist heat and chemicals, asbestos was used in a range of insulation materials.
Older commercial industrial buildings and private dwellings may contain a variety of asbestos products, such as asbestos-cement sheeting in walls and ceilings, or roof cladding made from corrugated asbestos-cement. Asbestos may be found in structures built as late as the mid- to late 1980s.

Asbestos Related Occupations
Asbestos has been used in association with a number of occupations such as the US military and armed forces, particularly the Navy. Massive amounts of asbestos were used in shipbuilding and commercial construction prior to the mid-1970′s.

Other workers in occupations which have been associated with asbestos use are:

Insulators, Pipe Fitters, Plumbers, Electricians, Painters, Crane Operators, Floor Coverers, Pot Tenders, Welders, Paper Mill Workers, Custodians, Steam Fitters, Tile Setters, Aerospace Workers, Mechanics, Building Engineers, Demolition Crews, Former US Navy Personnel, Packing/Gasket Manufacturing Workers, Protective Clothing Manufacturing, Rubber Workers, Warehouse Workers, Home Improvement, Hospitals, Schools, Loading Docks, Glass Factory Workers, Building Inspectors, Bulldozer Operators, Manufacturing Workers, Excavating machine operators, Heavy Equipment Mechanics, Job and Die setters, Contractors, Building Managers, Mixing Operatives, Laborers, Sawyers, Teachers, Tinsmiths, Weavers, Excavators, Technicians

Risks of Asbestos Exposure
Humans come into contact with asbestos when they swallow or inhale the fibers. These particles can then become embedded in the tissues of the respiratory or digestive systems.

Three Main Diseases Caused by Asbestos Exposure

Asbestosis causes widespread scar tissue between the alveoli, or spread over the lung. It is difficult to distinguish from other causes of interstitial fibrosis. Only confirmation of exposure to asbestos or detection of unusually high numbers of asbestos fibers in the lung is considered conclusive evidence of this disease.

Mesothelioma is a tumor of the chest lining, abdominal lining and occasionally the heart lining. Asbestos is not the only cause of this disease, but it is the most important cause in modern times. Crocidolite is the most important asbestos-related factor, but amosite, chrysotile and tremolite are also linked. This disease takes 20-50 years to appear, with the highest risk around 30-35 years after exposure. It is typically dose-related, but in rare cases has been known to occur in patients with little known occupational exposure to asbestos.

Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is relatively common among the general public and is the cancer most frequently associated with asbestos. Tumors grow and eventually obstruct airways. No characteristics specify a lung cancer as being caused by asbestos; we cannot distinguish a ‘cigarette’ lung cancer from an ‘asbestos’ lung cancer or ‘another’ lung cancer. Smoking increases the risk of death due to lung cancer for asbestos workers.

The history of asbestos and how it is has endangered human mortality has plagued different societies since ancient times. Throughout history must of these warnings have been ignored. Today, the use of asbestos is banned in the US and many other countries. This ban applies to manufacture, supply, storage, sale, use, reuse, installation and replacement of asbestos, except in special circumstances (e.g. removal and disposal of asbestos, and research work).

About the Author:

Dave Casey is a medical writer for, a comprehensive guide for mesothelioma cancer patients. The guide covers the history of asbestos, asbestos exposure and treatment options.

Copyright 2007

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The History of Asbestos

The History of Asbestos

Contrary to popular belief, the history of asbestos goes back thousands of years. When it was discovered as a substance that was almost indestructible, it began to be used for insulation purposes and for wicks in oil lamps. Because asbestos material does not burn, individuals as ancient as those living in the Roman Empire era would use asbestos material as cleaning rags. The dirty rags would then be thrown into a fire and burned – but the rag itself would not catch fire. The dirt would burn off, however, and the rag would be taken out of the fire completely clean.

Asbestos was used for hundreds of years, but became the most popular in the mid-1900s when it was determined that asbestos materials could be used as an insulation material for all sorts of machines, buildings, pipes, roofs, floors, and in thousands of other places. Asbestos was recognized as a one of the most effective and useful insulation substances commercially available, even though it was also known to be dangerous to human health.

As early as the 1st century, it was noted that people – usually slaves – who were working in asbestos mines were in poor health and sickly. The miners were known to develop breathing problems and other respiratory ailments. As ancient and primitive as their medical development was, they were told to wear masks to avoid breathing in the dust generated from the mining process. Essentially, it was presumed that the dust from the asbestos mines was causing grave illnesses and deaths – but the mining and use of asbestos continued.

Since the advantages of asbestos seemed to outweigh the cost of miners’ health problems, the asbestos industry kept chugging along. Finally, in the early 1900s when the practice of medicine became more advanced than in previous centuries, medical professionals begin to determine that the cause of many respiratory illnesses was a specific type of tumor. However, it was not until the 1940s that a link was made between the inhalation of asbestos and the specific type of “mystery” tumor that had been discovered. The term “Mesothelioma” started to show up at this time. Unfortunately, leaders of the asbestos industry urged doctors and medical professionals to NOT publicly discuss connections between mesothelioma and asbestos.

Finally, in the 1960s, articles began appearing in medical journals that discussed the absolute connection between mesothelioma and asbestos inhalation. The asbestos industry was not happy, nor were the governments of many nations, but they were obligated to warn the public of the possible dangers, and enact several regulations on the asbestos mining industry, as well as the installation and use of asbestos materials. is your definitive source for information involving the deadly disease known as mesothelioma.

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The History of Mesothelioma

The History of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a very uncommon form of cancer that has been proven to be almost always caused by the inhalation of asbestos particles. Mesothelioma, is extremely aggressive and usually spreads throughout a person’s body very quickly once it develops. Therefore, after it is detected in a person’s body, it normally spreads and aggressively invades a person’s vital organs and tissues – and possibly other areas within the body – within several months. Left untreated, mesothelioma patients generally do not face a very positive long-term prognosis.

Mesothelioma shows up inside the body in the form of tumors. The tumors can appear in any place or on any organ that has a mesothelium covering. Sometimes the tumors are detected and then determined to be benign, or non-cancerous. Non-cancerous mesothelioma tumors are usually treated, but not necessarily in the same manner as cancerous ones.

Chances are, if a person with mesothelioma tumors was ever exposed to or inhaled asbestos particles at any time in their life, the tumors will be malignant, or cancerous. The only definitive way to determine if the mesothelioma is benign or malignant is to have a biopsy.

Once a malignant mesothelioma tumor has been detected, tested, and determined to be malignant, other malignant tumors are likely to appear on other internal organs. This type of “spreading” of tumors is referred to as metastasizing. If mesothelioma is discovered in the chest cavity, for example, tumors may begin appearing in places other than the original site. There is no way to determine on which organs the tumors will pop up after the original diagnosis.

There are several types of malignant mesothelioma, but three of them are the most common. The most common out of these three is called “Epithelial.” Luckily, epithelial, is the type of mesothelioma that responds best to treatment. All three types are generally treated the same way in terms of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

In most cases, malignant mesothelioma is discovered in a person’s chest cavity. The second most common place for tumors to exist at time of diagnosis is the abdomen. The least common place for tumors to be found upon original discovery is in the heart.

When tumors exist in the chest cavity, they are called “Pleural Mesotheliomas,” when they are found in the abdomen, they are called, “Peritoneal Mesotheliomas,” and when they are discovered in the heart, they are called, “Pericardial Mesotheliomas.”

The mesothelium is a two layer covering that encases the body’s internal organs and allows them to sit next to other organs and tissues without them rubbing or causing friction between each other. In other words, the mesothelium membrane provides the outer layer of the organs with a lubricating fluid so that they can glide along side of each other. The heart and lungs, for example, constantly expand and contract, and the mesothelium membrane allows these organs to move without any sort of friction.

Depending on the location in the body, or the organ which it is surrounding, the mesothelium is referred to by different names. When referring to the mesothelium that covers the organs in a person’s abdomen, the mesothelium is called, “The Peritoneum.” The mesothelium that covers the organs in the chest or the lungs is called, “The Pleura.” The mesothelium membrane that covers the heart is called “The Pericardium.”

When a person develops mesothelioma, tumors begin to grow on the mesothelium. Tumors can form and appear on the peritoneum, the pleura, and/or the pericardium mesothelium. When tumors form, it is a sign that the cells that make up the mesothelium are dividing out of control and out of their normal order. Once the cancer has started, it commonly spreads to other mesothelium areas within the body, and it can also metastasize to tissues that surround the affected organs. is your definitive source for information involving the deadly disease known as mesothelioma.

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Asbestos lung mesothelioma – A family history of lung cancer

Asbestos lung mesothelioma – A family history of lung cancer

The lungs are the body responsible for breathing. Lung cancer is caused by cellular alterations of malignant tumor development in one. The factors that lead to disease are different.

Researchers are examining the effects of family history of cancer. It ‘possible that there is at least one defective gene that lung cancer would be passed down in families. If you have a first degree relative with cancer, the risk is doubled. It ‘very difficult to sort thatThe facts here as a result of the role of smoking. Smokers all families will be exposed to cigarette smoke, and then have a higher risk if they have inherited a faulty gene or not.

But while tobacco is the most important risk factor, family history plays an important but secondary role. People with a family history of lung cancer might be less of an ability to repair DNA damage of smoking, resulting in increased incidence of unpleasantCancer.

There is increasing evidence that genetic factors [for your] family history may be at risk as part of the cause of lung cancer. The chemical carcinogens in cells, lung cells for biochemical processes including the fact yours. Genes determine these processes. A number of genes could allow more of the carcinogenic chemicals are produced that allow other genes, perhaps less


Cough is an important symptom of lung cancer

The symptoms of lung cancer are in his way, his position and how it spreads. One of the most common symptom is a persistent cough or people who have a chronic cough, a change in the character of the cough. A row of people coughing blood or sputum streaked with blood.

Cough is a symptom of lung cancer significantly, but it is difficult to distinguish, cough cough associated with lung cancer and cough associated with smoking orchronic lung diseases like COPD, smoking caused associated. If a patient who had a chronic cough shows changes in the pattern of a cough, a possibility of cancer must be considered.

A cough from lung cancer, shortness of breath and coughing up blood are the symptoms, in essence, to you in two forms, small cell carcinoma and non-small cell lung cancer.


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History of Asbestos Use and Exposure

History of Asbestos Use and Exposure

The toxic chemical we know today as asbestos has been used for thousands of years for the same reasons it has been used in recent years, that is, its resistance to flame. Since ancient times, many cultures have used asbestos as an insulation, a cloth, and a flame retardant. Only in the past few decades however have we truly seen the serious side effects of asbestos exposure, namely mesothelioma and asbestosis.

The detrimental health effects of asbestos have also been documented for an extensive period of time. Many early reports of sickness caused by asbestos exposure reported the same symptoms as mesothelioma. Some called it a “sickness of the lungs,” but it was not until the early 1900s when medical professionals began to agree that asbestos was the cause of a specific cancer in the lungs.

Seemingly oblivious to the linkage between asbestos and lung cancer, asbestos was used in construction for many more years. Residential, commercial and industrial construction all relied heavily on asbestos up until around the 1970s. Records indicate that asbestos was used extensively in the construction of U.S. Navy ships, which affected a large percentage of men and women serving on those vessels. These materials were widely used in the engine and boiler rooms, as well as other areas below deck for fire safety purposes.

Because of this high exposure rate, veterans make up a large percentage of mesothelioma vicitms. Statistically, 30 percent of mesothelioma victims are veterans and Navy veterans account for 16 percent of asbestos-related lung cancer.

Another group affected by asbestos exposure has been those who have worked in asbestos mines or mines contaminated with asbestos. This trend has also been noted historically; many researchers found that people working in asbestos mines led unnaturally short lives comparably speaking. Despite the research and knowlege of many scientists and companies, many workers were continually exploited in the manufacturing and mining processes up to and past the time when laws were put in place to protect workers.

Mesothelioma is a rare but deadly form of lung cancer that is almost always caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. No known treatment can currently completely cure the effects of mesothelioma, which is why it is imperative that a patient recently diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer locate an experienced mesothelioma lawyer who can provide a free legal consultation as to the development of a possible mesothelioma lawsuit. Developing litigation of this nature may result in monetary funds being dispersed to a victim, who can then use such compensation to pay for costly medical treatments and increase quality of life during their cancer. provides a wealth of resources for individuals seeking legal help. Information regarding mesothelioma is available at’s mesothelioma information portal which provides an expansive selection of articles as well as a contact form fo an experienced mesothelioma lawyer.

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A Short History of Occupational Disease in the United States

A brief look at the origin of occupational medicine in the US in the early Twentieth century. This clip is taken from the 1979 film, “Can’t Take No More,” by OSHA. This excellent 27 minutes film is available on GoogleVideo.
Video Rating: 5 / 5