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Asbestos Use Dates Back to 2400 B.C.

Asbestos Use Dates Back to 2400 B.C.

While asbestos use is heavily regulated in the United States and illegal in most other countries, there was a time when the asbestos industry prospered and many homes, buildings, and products contained some type of asbestos material. Many homes and buildings built before 1980 contain the fire-retardant material that was used for insulation, roofing, flooring, and drywall joint compound. Other asbestos containing products included gaskets, brake pads, vinyl table covers, and even some children’s toys. Even though the rise and fall of asbestos can be attributed to the last 150 years or so, many do not know that asbestos use dates as far back as 2400B B.C.

Evidence has shown that people who lived in the Lake Juojarvi region in East Finland approximately 4,000 years ago used asbestos to make pots and cooking materials. Some historians have found asbestos being used as far back as 5,000 years ago in ancient Greece. Historians believe cremation clothes, hats, lamp wicks, and shoes were all used around that time period. What is even more fascinating about the history of asbestos use is the history of asbestos-related illnesses. These illnesses garnered national attention in the 20th century in the United States, but records indicate there was some suspicion about asbestos and its negative health effects that date back to the first century.

Pliny the Younger, an ancient Roman scholar from around 61 to 113 AD noted in some of his writings that the slaves who worked in asbestos mines weaving clothes had a “sickness in the lungs.”  Much like the companies of the 20th century who put profits before people’s health, the ancient Greeks and Romans were too mystified by this “magical mineral” to assess the idea of adverse health effects.  Asbestos fibers were strong, and could be spun and woven into soft fire resistant fabrics. At a time when burial clothes were expensive and seen as a luxury, Romans were particularly impressed by the fact that asbestos clothes “turned white” when burned, therefore appearing clean and as good as new.

There isn’t much history concerning asbestos use after the ancient Greek and Roman times and asbestos doesn’t become a prominent mineral in daily life again until the late 19th century. As the Industrial Revolution took place in America, asbestos production began to increase and in 1828 the first U.S. patent for asbestos was issued and textiles became the dominant industry. Throughout the rest of the 20th century, the links between asbestos and lung disease grew more and more apparent but it wasn’t until the 1970s that workers began to sue by the thousands – discovering that the companies that they worked for knew all along the dangers of asbestos exposure and intentionally withheld that information from their employees.

Today, we are still feeling the effects of the business tactics used by large asbestos corporations and manufactures as hard working people continue to be diagnosed with serious asbestos-related illnesses such as lung cancer, asbestosis, colon cancer and mesothelioma.

At Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C., we have been helping workers injured by asbestos protect their rights and those of their families for over 30 years.  We aggressively pursue the mesothelioma compensation  for our clients and our results show both our skill at achieving outstanding results and our dedication to our clients. Each case is different, and if you would like to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer, please contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation.



Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, “Asbestos Timeline.” [Link]

Malcolm Ross, Robert P. Nolan, “History of asbestos discovery and use and asbestos-related disease in context with the occurrence of asbestos within ophiolite complexes” (2003). [Link]

Paul Brodeur, Outrageous Misconduct,.p.10 (1985).