Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate substance that has been used since ancient times for its fireproof and fire resistant qualities. Cultures as far back as the year 60 wove cloth from asbestos fibers that could be cleaned by throwing them into a fire. However, the miraculous properties of the fibers came at a great cost to the health of those that used products made with the material. Asbestos came into common usage in the US in the 1800s with disastrous consequences for many workers.
Asbestos was mined in America and used in concrete, bricks, pipes, fireplace components, insulation, tile, flooring and roofing materials. After World War II, asbestos began to be used in railyards, shipbuilding and automotive components. But during this time, many corporations involved with asbestos knew that the substance could sicken workers and caused serious illnesses and lung complaints.
In the early 1900s, deaths among asbestos miners became known to companies but kept secret from the public. In the 1940s, the US finally recognized asbestosis as a work-related disease but mesothelioma wasn’t tied to asbestos until later that decade. But in the decades that followed, corporations continued to rely on asbestos despite knowing they were putting workers at risk. And once sick workers began looking for justice, many companies filed bankruptcy to avoid accountability for their actions.
If you were made ill by asbestos, you’ll want to know where and how you were exposed and who is responsible for making you sick. This can be difficult to trace and made more so by the veil of corporate secrecy, complex ownership structures and bankruptcy filings which asbestos using companies have used to shield themselves from liability for their actions.
Explore the resources below to learn more about asbestos products, known job sites that exposed workers, high risk occupations, diseases caused by asbestos and the bankruptcy conspiracy and corporate cover-up of this occupational hazard.