Unbelievable History of Asbestos

Asbestos is the name of a generic God made fibrous mineral. Asbestos is believed to be a Greek letter which means fire proof. It has been in use during the Holy Roman Empire for constructing materials. Use of asbestos was also found in clothing and various textile industries. There is a saying that after finishing a meal Roman Emperor threw this amazing table cloth fabric in fire which came out as unscathed and clean. And Egyptians were also in the race, to preserve the bodies of their dead, they were in fashion to use clothes made out of asbestos. Despite the lack of technology at that time, they were also of the same point of view that it is hazardous for health. They also claim that it was also the reason of pulmonary issues being shown by the miners where extraction of asbestos was done. The workers who wove and spun cloth made out of asbestos were also affected by this. Pliny the Elder who was a naturalist and Roman philosopher made some observation about the workers at asbestos mine. He saw that people, who were working there, suffered from lungs sickness and left the world at a young age.

The German, Italian and French knights in 1095 who fought in the First Crusade made use of a catapult named trebuchet, which threw asbestos bag made of pitch and tar over the city walls while there siege was on. A famous historian and traveler Marco Polo, in 1280 write about the “fabric which would not burn” and it was used by the Mongolians. In London’s Natural History Museum there is a collect of purse which is made of fireproof asbestos. It was brought by Benjamin Franklin to England when he was a young man in 1725, during his visit there. A paper is also made by asbestos which was found in Italy in the start of 18thcentury. In the mid of 19the century Persian also wore helmets and jacket made by using asbestos.


In the start of 19th century, in the Free State of Africa crocidolite (blue asbestos) was already found. Shortly after Canada’s established, its globe’s first commercial asbestos mine in 1876, chrorysotile (white asbestos) was found in the Thetford Township, in southeastern Quebec.

England, Germany and Scotland in the early 1870’s, constructed huge industries of asbestos. Italy has also played its part of tremolite asbestos mining for decades.

Asbestos now was not a cloth for the rich but due to the industrial revolution; it also became common for the poor. In the late 19th century after the industrial revolution in the United States once again the use of asbestos was rocking and industrialists took as much benefit of this miracle mineral. It was not only used in factories but also in railroad cars, chemical refineries and in ship yards too.

Nellie Kershaw was a worker in the spinning room of Rockdale asbestos who suffered from fibrous of tuberculosis and lungs and ended in a fatal death. The word “asbestosis” was first coined by Oliver in his articles but somehow it is now referred to Cooke, who further took Nellie’s case and he used this word in his paper in 1927.

In 1928, a Britain’s factory inspector raised the issue after the discovery of a case of pulmonary fibrous which were disturbing a Glasgow asbestos workers. A medical inspector in Glasgow, whose name was Edward Merewether, was given order to check into this matter and report back. When he was assigned this dusty, Edward was of 36 years. He was a young man at that time and a new addition to the inspectorate section. He has taken only one appointment in 1927. After his inquiry at the site, they also ran a full scale investigation which was put to an end by Edward, in October 1929. His findings were true to this case of Nellie Kershaw. He stated that there was occupational exposure to asbestos dust at that was too at high concentration and for long durations. In his report he further stated that fibrous of lungs can also end in death and complete disablement.

Russia and Canada have the largest reserve of asbestos. In the 20th century, asbestos was considered as a magic or non-compose able mineral. And by 1950 it was the sole recipe, when to comes to the clutch lining, brakes and gaskets of vehicles, fire proofing and insulation for warship and buildings and it was even used in electrical distribution system and also in domestic materials for example ironing boards. An American giant company named Johns Manville, had a large variety of products manufactured with the help of asbestos. And this gigantic company had rule the American industry for so many years mainly due to the extensive use of asbestos.

After the war, worldwide demand for asbestos integrated because the countries and economies were having a hard time to restructure. After a post war era, United States of hunger of asbestos was increasing die to the spreading of American economy and this was also due to the sustained building of army’s equipments while the Cold War was on. In the 1973, United States was consuming asbestos on the highest levels at 804000 tons. While the world demand saw its peak around 1977, regarding the use of asbestos. 85 nations were manufacturing thousand of things with the use of asbestos. While 25 nations were digging out as near to 4.8 million metric tons of asbestos pr annum.

Due to rise in asbestos and risk in health, trade unions and organized labor were asking for a healthy and safer environment to work. Many of the giants started looking for asbestos replacement as there were liability claims.

In 17 countries by 2003, new ecosystem regulations and public demand gave some strength to partially or fully ban the use of asbestos. And 2005 saw something amazing, the use asbestos products were banned in the entire European Union. Emerging economies are also giving a huge push to the use of asbestos in the recent times as we saw the developed countries in the past.

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