History of Asbestos
For decades, asbestos was touted as a miracle product with thousands of applications in the building and manufacturing industries and other industries. During the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, at the height of its use, asbestos was used in thousands of commercial and industrial materials, including floor tile, roofing shingles, building insulation, brake shoes and joint compound, and workers who were routinely exposed to toxic asbestos on the job included shipyard workers, construction workers, pipefitters, chemical plant workers and auto mechanics, among others. Unfortunately, because the use of asbestos was so widespread for so long, hundreds of thousands of workers across the United States were exposed to asbestos fibers on the job. The loved ones of workers who routinely handled asbestos on the job were also exposed to asbestos brought home on their clothing each day. Even today, there are certain occupations that still expose workers to potentially dangerous levels of asbestos. For instance, construction workers and other workers who regularly handle insulation and other asbestos-containing materials in older buildings may be at risk for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses.
In the United States, asbestos use was most abundant during the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, and while regulations limited the use of asbestos in the 1970’s, experts estimate that asbestos is still a hazard for more than one million American workers in the construction industry and those involved in the maintenance of buildings and equipment that contain asbestos. In light of the potential for asbestos to cause serious health problems in those exposed to the toxic mineral, asbestos has been banned in more than a dozen countries. Unfortunately, the United States has yet to ban asbestos.