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Asbestos Industry and the Long History of Misinformation

The risks of asbestos have been apparent for decades, but there is still misinformation and confusion surrounding the extent of the dangers. A recent article in the New Republic summarized the history of asbestos-related problems and told the story of a town called Asbestos where a mine that once satisfied ¾ of the world’s demand for asbestos closed in the summer of 2012. asbestos-119041-m-1.jpg

The asbestos industry and residents of this town still believe claims that it is possible to use white asbestos without risks to health. However, most experts disagree and the prevalence of mesothelioma and asbestosis cases seem to make it apparent that asbestos should no longer be used in any form because the risks are simply too great.

Even with a virtual ban on most asbestos products, people continue to be exposed to dangerous asbestos fibers in a variety of ways. Many homes, apartments, hospitals, schools and other buildings still contain numerous building products that are made with asbestos, and when the asbestos-containing items are disturbed, billions of tiny asbestos fibers can be inhaled.

These fibers become lodged in the lungs and over time can cause mesothelioma or lung cancer to develop. Patients who develop these cancers should speak with a Boston mesothelioma lawyer for information on how to take legal action and recover compensation for their injuries and losses.

History of the Asbestos Industry & It Risks

Rochdale, in north-west England, is generally considered to be the birthplace of the modern asbestos industry. In 1879, the Turner Brothers Asbestos Company first began weaving asbestos cloth. Within 20-years, the Chief Inspector of Factories for Britain reported that there were risks of asbestos and called for ventilation of workplaces in order to prevent lung injuries.

The first fatality that was officially considered asbestos-related was a 33-year-old yarn spinner named Nellie Kershaw, who worked for five years in the Turner Brothers factory before she died in 1924. She had been diagnosed with a condition called “asbestos poisoning” two years prior to her death but the company where she worked refused her compensation and did not contribute to the costs of her funeral.

Despite the fact that asbestos was known to be toxic even back then, a review of internal industry papers indicates that senior figures in the asbestos industry launched a campaign of distortion and concealment. This was similar to the way in which tobacco executives hid the dangers of cigarettes for so long.

In 1927, a doctor who studied the health of workers at an asbestos plant in Leeds used x-rays to demonstrate that hand-beating asbestos mattresses to remove lumps could cause asbestosis to develop within five years. A government inquiry later confirmed the risks and by 1931, Britain instituted regulations on dust control. Two years later, U.S. asbestos companies asked its insurer, MetLife, to conduct a study to determine if the asbestos was an occupation hazard. The results of the study, which showed that only 17 of the 108 male workers were unharmed, were never published.

Results of numerous other industry-backed research projects were also hidden if it was not favorable to asbestos, and even today residents of the town called Asbestos believe that white asbestos can be safely used despite the ample proof to the contrary. The deception to prop up the asbestos industry has cost thousands of lives over the decades as asbestos use continued long after it was clear that it was not safe.

Asbestos victims should contact The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

More Blog Entries:
Advocacy for U.S. Navy and Military Veterans With Mesothelioma, March 17, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog