Asbestos: a History of Asbestos Exposure
Although asbestos became a popular engineering material during the seventeen hundreds, its special heat resistant properties had been known for a
long time. In the present day we recognise that exposure to asbestos can pose a severe threat to health and consequently it is rarely, if ever, used in
The danger is due to the fibrous nature of the material. Asbestos fibres break up into microfibers that are just the right size to get trapped in the lung
when asbestos dust is inhaled. Once there, they do considerable damage to surrounding cells, often causing them to start cancers. The always fatal
cancer is known as mesothelioma, and the nearly always fatal cancer is the same cancer that is associated with smoking. Less serious, though highly
disabling, diseases associated with inhaling asbestos dust are asbestosis and pleural scaring.
Even the ancient Greeks were a little concerned that their slaves who worked with asbestos were subject to breathing difficulties, and the risks of the
material were certainly recognised during the days of the industrial revolution. Gradually governments became aware of the dangers, and during the
nineteen thirties some preventative measures were taken. Once it had been recognised that there were dangers associated with the material,
mesothelioma compensation (mesothelioma is a disease of the lung associated with breathing asbestos fibres) claims followed. These were vigorously
opposed by the asbestos industry which continued to maintain that their workers were not subjected to unreasonable dangers. The battle continued for
many years, in fact until recent times; however the use and disposal of asbestos is now controlled strictly by legislation.
About the Author
One of the worrying aspects about asbestos exposure is the length of time it can take after exposure before onset of the related illnesses. This can
make it quite difficult for someone who has been exposed to asbestos in various jobs, who has subsequently become il