Many Americans know asbestos as a toxic substance that can cause life-threatening illnesses. However, it once was considered an efficient and safe material for construction projects. Here’s a brief history of the material.
The Discovery of Asbestos
Although asbestos was used by ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and even craftsmen in the Stone Age, it wasn’t until 1858 that asbestos was commonly used in the United States. It became common when The Johns Company began mining it for use in the United States and Canada during the Industrial Revolution. Because asbestos is resistant to chemicals, heat, water, and electricity, it was commonly used as an insulator during many industrial processes. However, it soon became apparent that asbestos was causing widespread health concerns.
Rising Health Concerns
In 1918, the U.S. government recognized the health risk after reports of early death in asbestos workers became common. In 1930, a doctor named E.R.A. Merewether conducted a clinical examination of hundreds of asbestos workers, finding that one in four was afflicted by a condition called asbestosis. He also concluded that not only workers but also those exposed to asbestos products may be at risk, as there is no safe amount of asbestos exposure.
Connection with Cancer
Many asbestos workers began developing lung cancer as the years went on. In 1949, Dr. Wilhelm Heuper, a physician and contributor to the National Cancer Institute, warned the general population of the connection between asbestos and cancer risk. This was after the first report of a mesothelioma-like tumor in 1943. Mesothelioma, a condition characterized by a tumor that can either be malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous), was linked to asbestos in studies conducted between the 1950s and ’60s. However, the asbestos industry continued to sell and install asbestos without warning workers well into the 1960s.
After the tragedy of long-term exposure to a toxic material, those affected by the asbestos industry soon began receiving compensation. In 1967, a UK citizen was the first to file a successful personal injury claim due to mesothelioma, which was upheld by an appeals court in 1971. In the same year, a federal court issued a verdict of $68,000 for victims which was also upheld by an appeals court. Currently, nearly 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year, according to the CDC. Many of these victims are still eligible for compensation.
Mesothelioma is a devastating condition that many could have avoided. Unfortunately, unethical practices by the asbestos industry had adverse effects on its workers. If you are the victim of illness due to asbestos exposure, or any other personal injury, contact D’Amico Law Offices, LLC today at (412) 652-9300 to determine if you are eligible for compensation.