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How Asbestos Industry Hid Dangers from Public

A recent article from Eco Watch looks at how those in the asbestos mining and manufacturing industry were well aware of the dangers their product posed to humans, but did whatever they could to hide that information from the general public. While we have known this for quite some time, and it has been the basis for many favorable verdicts in asbestos injury lawsuits, it is interesting to see when they knew and what steps they took to hide the dangers.

xrayanalysisThe first thing to keep in mind is that asbestos is not man-made. In fact, it is naturally occurring substance comprised of six silica elements, and humans have used it for thousands of years.  In earlier times, it was used primarily due to its natural ability to resist heat, fire, caustic chemicals, and electricity, but eventually it was primarily used as a binding agent in construction materials. Dry wall joint compound, for example, frequently contained deadly asbestos fibers.

While some suspected the dangers of asbestos over a thousand years ago, it was in 1900 in London that a doctor found asbestos fibers in the lungs of a dead factory worker.  This factory worker had died in his early 30s from what was classified as advanced pulmonary fibrosis.  The doctor determined via an autopsy that the asbestos fibers caused the damage.  This condition would later come to be known as asbestosis, which is the result of the fibers scarring and damaging the lungs.  Today, people can live with asbestosis in many cases, but is a painful existence, and the person must have an oxygen tank with them like those who suffer chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) usually caused by years of smoking.

Less than 20 years after the death of this worker in England, there were many reports of seemingly asbestos-related deaths being reported to the U.S. Department of Labor.  Ten years after that, the disease was officially named asbestosis. By 1948, companies were well aware of asbestosis, and there were internal memos from their own scientists who were confirming the dangers through experimentation.  They chose to ignore this evidence in the interest of making more money.

The following year, there was an internal memo from the Exxon Corporation showing they were also aware that asbestos caused a type of cancer that would later be named mesothelioma. Again, they took no steps to warn the public or stop using the deadly substance.

As our Boston asbestos attorneys have seen in far too many cases, there are literally hundreds of these internal memos that show these companies were well aware of the dangers and took no steps to take the asbestos products off the market.  In fact, they did the opposite and produced more asbestos products while trying to keep their secret for as long as possible.  While it is hard to imagine how this could happen to today, it is important to remember that before the days of the Internet and social media, everyone did not instantly know much of what was happening, and it was much easier to keep corporate secrets like these.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Asbestos Industry Knew and Kept Secret for Decades That Their Product Was Deadly, June 9, 2016, Eco Watch, By Alex Formuzis

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A Look at How Military Veterans with Mesothelioma are Treated, March 28, 2016, Mesothelioma Lawyer Boston