The Greeks termed asbestos the “miracle mineral” because it was soft, supple and could withstand heat. Miracle, indeed! Unfortunately, scientists have since shown that extended periods of exposure to asbestos can be deadly. You have to wonder how many of the Greeks fell ill late in life due to their exposure to this “miracle mineral.”

Around the end of World War II, asbestos became very popular with manufacturers and builders because of the same principles known to the Greeks. Asbestos is heat-resistant, fire-retardant, has tremendous sound absorption qualities and is very strong. Asbestos has been used in such products as brake shoes for vehicles, joint compound, stage curtains, interior fire doors, insulation, vinyl flooring and adhesives, fireproof clothing for fire fighters and the list goes on.

Prior to this, even dating back to the Greeks, physicians were starting to see a correlation between asbestos workers and medical conditions that were affecting their lungs. In 1898, the British Chief Inspector of Factories indicated asbestos workers ‘easily demonstrated’ health risks. In 1932, the U.S. Bureau of Mines sent a report to Eagle-Picher (one of the largest producers of asbestos) stating that “it is now known that asbestos dust is one of the most dangerous dusts to which man is exposed.”

These types of reports continued until the late 1980s when the U.S. EPA issued its Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule. Since then, buildings and products containing asbestos have been reclaimed and the allowable limits on asbestos in the workplace have been regulated to a greatly decreased level. Removing asbestos from buildings now requires heavy protection for both the workers and the area being reclaimed.

Unfortunately, for thousands of people employed in asbestos manufacturing plants and other industries where asbestos has been heavily used, the regulations may have come too late. It may take years, even decades, for the signs and symptoms of asbestos poisoning, or mesothelioma, to appear.

While the asbestos fibers are amazingly beautiful – resembling the snowy white beard of an aging southern gentleman – when inhaled, the sharp fibers (similar to fiberglass) imbed themselves into the lining around the lungs or abdomen and cause the deadly disease known as Mesothelioma.

By: Patricia Woloch

About the Author:

If you or a loved one worked in an asbestos manufacturing plant or other industry where asbestos was used, you could still be at risk for contracting mesothelioma. Please contact the Baltimore Mesothelioma Lawyers at Parker, Dumler & Kiely, LLP for help.

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