Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer that kills about 2,500 people each year. Although this does not seem like a lot, it is the unique nature of this cancer that makes this figure surprising. Mesothelioma is directly related to a fire retardant material called asbestos. Only around 5% of people survive five years or more with this type of cancer.
Since exposure to asbestos is almost always occupation-related, there are websites with information and resources available like those found at asbestos.net.
Asbestos was useful as a preservative in ancient Egypt. This is the earliest known use for the fibrous mineral. Unfortunately, shortly after the earliest uses of asbestos came the earliest cases of what is now suspected to be mesothelioma. According to a Greek geographer, the slaves that wrapped the pharaohs’ bodies in asbestos cloth came down with a strange lung sickness.
You hear about asbestos being used in several countries for its preservative and fireproofing qualities. These qualities made it perfect for preserving the dead, preventing table fires (common after some celebrations) and in trebuchet ammunition where they would light the ball on fire, the outside of the ball would continue to burn, but the inside wouldn’t disintegrate.
It wasn’t until the 1880’s that broad-scale industrial mining of asbestos occurred. Large mines opened in the Americas and other countries to keep up with the increased demand. The deadly properties of asbestos were not rediscovered until the early 20th century and not taken particularly seriously until the 1940s in Europe. Throughout the 1960s, asbestos use in the United States was still expanding.
Modern History and Reforms
Serious asbestos reforms in the United States did not begin until the 1970s when spray asbestos was banned. Then in the 1980s when the EPA instituted a partial ban on many other asbestos-related products. There were also bans placed on processing, importing, distributing and manufacturing certain products that contained asbestos. Researching new uses for asbestos and manufacturing were also placed under a ban.
The rediscovery of the dangerous nature of asbestos and mesothelioma sparked hundreds of lawsuits against companies that mined, manufactured and used asbestos. One of the more prominent agencies named was the United States Navy. It was determined that most of the companies that manufactured and sold asbestos products knew the risks involved in using it. These risks include asbestosis, lung cancer, pleural and cardiac effusion and the deadly mesothelioma.
Throughout its history, it has been discovered and rediscovered that asbestos is a harmful mineral. Many families still have to fight for compensation due to exposure.
Article Submitted By Community Writer