Asbestos, meaning “unquenchable” or “inextinguishable,” has been known since pre-historical times as a powerful fire, acid and salt retardant and for its strong binding properties. In the early 19th century, asbestos came to be known as the ‘magic mineral’ and became widely incorporated in everything from paint to insulation to brake pads. Today asbestos plays a prominent role in our global ecosystem and, though widely known to be toxic to human health and the only known cause of mesothelioma, asbestos continues to be widely used today.
Asbestos: The Known Carcinogen
Asbestos is a known cause of cancer, specifically mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer generally attacking the lining of the lungs due to asbestos exposure. There is no cure for asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and malignant mesothelioma. Although many companies knew about the health risks associated with working with asbestos, they failed to inform and protect their workers who can be exposed to asbestos fibers in numerous ways. These unknowing asbestos-exposed workers carried the dangerous fibers with them home, putting their families in danger, too.
Extensive Use of Asbestos Products
Asbestos has been used in products in a variety of capacities, dating as far back as 5,000 BC. Several materials that were produced with asbestos throughout time include: