History of Asbestos
Medical evidence documenting the potential hazardous effects of asbestos exposure dates back to the 1930’s, when medical professionals, observing asbestosis, lung cancer and other illnesses in asbestos factory workers, began warning asbestos manufacturers, asbestos mine owners and factory owners about the dangers of the mineral. Despite these warnings, manufacturers of asbestos-containing products continued making their products and business owners continued exposing their employees to asbestos without providing them with the proper equipment to protect themselves against toxic asbestos fibers and dust. Years went by, and asbestos continued to be used extensively by the manufacturing, construction, automobile and chemical industries, among other industries, as well as by the U.S. military.
At the height of its use, asbestos could be found in everything from cement, insulation, and roofing and flooring compounds, to automotive clutches, brake pads and linings, plus thousands of other products that posed a potential health risk to anyone exposed to the products during manufacturing or use. Unfortunately, rather than prevent asbestos exposure or provide employees with the proper protective equipment, companies that sold asbestos or manufactured asbestos-based products simply covered up the toxic effects of asbestos and quietly settled lawsuits filed by sick employees and their families. Finally, by 2003, 17 countries had established full or partial bans on asbestos as a result of growing concerns about the health risks of the mineral, and by 2005, asbestos was banned throughout the European Union. The United States passed legislation limiting the use of asbestos in the 1970’s, but, unfortunately, has yet to ban asbestos altogether.