Between 1930 and 1960, manufacturers did all they could to prevent the link between asbestos and respiratory diseases, including cancer, becoming known, so they could avoid prosecution. American workers had in fact sued the Johns Manville company as far back as 1932, but it was not until 1962 that epidemiologists finally established beyond any doubt what company bosses had known for a long time –asbestos causes cancer.
History of health concerns and regulation ,Source : 
For additional chronological citations, see also, List of asbestos disease medical articles
By the first century AD, Greeks and Romans are claimed to have observed that slaves involved in the weaving of asbestos cloth were afflicted with a sickness of the lungs, although this is not confirmed by examination of primary sources.
Early concern in the modern era on the health effects of asbestos exposure can be found in several sources. Among the earliest were reports in Britain. The annual reports of the Chief Inspector of Factories reported as early as 1898 that asbestos had "easily demonstrated" health risks.
At about the same time, what was probably the first study of mortality among asbestos workers was reported in France. While the study describes the cause of death as chalicosis, a generalized pneumoconiosis, the circumstances of the employment of the fifty workers whose death prompted the study suggest that the root cause was asbestos or mixed asbestos-cotton dust exposure.
Micrograph demonstrating asbestosis of the lung (ferruginous bodies). H&E stain.Further awareness of asbestos-related diseases can be found in the early 1900s, when London doctor H. Montague Murray conducted a post mortem exam on a young asbestos factory worker who died in 1899. Dr. Murray gave testimony on this death in connection with an industrial disease compensation hearing. The post-mortem confirmed the presence of asbestos in the lung tissue, prompting Dr. Murray to express as an expert opinion his belief that the inhalation of asbestos dust had at least contributed to, if not actually caused, the death of the worker.
The record in the United States was similar. Early observations were largely anecdotal in nature and did not definitively link the occupation with the disease, followed by more compelling and larger studies that strengthened the association. One such study, published in 1918, noted:All of these processes unquestionably involve a considerable dust hazard, but the hygienic aspects of the industry have not been reported upon. It may be said, in conclusion, that in the practice of American and Canadian life insurance companies, asbestos workers are generally declined on account of the assumed health-injurious conditions of the industry.
Widespread recognition of the occupational risks of asbestos in Britain was reported in 1924 by a Dr. Cooke, a pathologist, who introduced a case description of a 33-year-old female asbestos worker, Nellie Kershaw, with the following: "Medical men in areas where asbestos is manufactured have long suspected the dust to be the cause of chronic bronchitis and fibrosis..." Dr. Cooke then went on to report on a case in 1927 involving a 33-year-old male worker who was the only survivor out of ten workers in an asbestos cardingroom. In the report he named the disease "asbestosis".
Dr. Cooke's second case report was followed, in the late 1920s, by a large public health investigation (now known as the Merewether report after one of its two authors) that examined some 360 asbestos-textile workers (reported to be about 15% of the total comparable employment in Britain at the time) and found that about a quarter of them suffered from pulmonary fibrosis.
This investigation resulted in improved regulation of the manufacturing of asbestos-containing products in the early 1930s. Regulations included industrial hygiene standards, medical examinations, and inclusion of the asbestos industry into the British Workers' Compensation Act.
The first known U.S. workers' compensation claim for asbestos disease was in 1927. In 1930, the first reported autopsy of an asbestosis sufferer was conducted in the United states and later presented by a doctor at the Mayo Clinic, although in this case the exposure involved mining activities somewhere in South America.
In 1930, the major asbestos company Johns-Manville produced a report, for internal company use only, about medical reports of asbestos worker fatalities.
In 1932, a letter from U.S. Bureau of Mines to asbestos manufacturer Eagle-Picher stated, in relevant part, "It is now known that asbestos dust is one of the most dangerous dusts to which man is exposed."
In 1933, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. doctors found that 29% of workers in a Johns-Manville plant had asbestosis.
Likewise, in 1933, Johns-Manville officials settled lawsuits by 11 employees with asbestosis on the condition that the employees' lawyer agree to never again "directly or indirectly participate in the bringing of new actions against the Corporation."
In 1934, officials of two large asbestos companies, Johns-Manville and Raybestos-Manhattan, edited an article about the diseases of asbestos workers written by a Metropolitan Life Insurance Company doctor. The changes downplayed the danger of asbestos dust.
In 1935, officials of Johns-Manville and Raybestos-Manhattan instructed the editor of Asbestos magazine to publish nothing about asbestosis.
In 1936, a group of asbestos companies agreed to sponsor research on the health effects of asbestos dust, but required that the companies maintain complete control over the disclosure of the results.
In 1942, an internal Owens-Corning corporate memo referred to "medical literature on asbestosis… scores of publications in which the lung and skin hazards of asbestos are discussed."
Testimony given in a federal court in 1984 by Charles H. Roemer, formerly an employee of Unarco, described a meeting in the early 1940s between Unarco officials, J-M President Lewis H. Brown and J-M attorney Vandiver Brown. Roemer stated, "I’ll never forget, I turned to Mr. Brown, one of the Browns made this crack (that Unarco managers were a bunch of fools for notifying employees who had asbestosis), and I said, ‘Mr. Brown, do you mean to tell me you would let them work until they dropped dead?’ He said, ‘Yes. We save a lot of money that way.'"
In 1944, a Metropolitan Life Insurance Company report found 42 cases of asbestosis among 195 asbestos miners.
1950sIn 1951, asbestos companies removed all references to cancer before allowing publication of research they sponsored.
In 1952, Dr. Kenneth Smith, Johns-Manville medical director, recommended (unsuccessfully) that warning labels be attached to products containing asbestos. Later, Smith testified: "It was a business decision as far as I could understand… the corporation is in business to provide jobs for people and make money for stockholders and they had to take into consideration the effects of everything they did and if the application of a caution label identifying a product as hazardous would cut into sales, there would be serious financial implications."
In 1953, National Gypsum's safety director wrote to the Indiana Division of Industrial Hygiene, recommending that acoustic plastermixers wear respirators "because of the asbestos used in the product." Another company official noted that the letter was "full of dynamite" and urged that it be retrieved before reaching its destination. A memo in the files noted that the company "succeeded in stopping" the letter, which "will be modified."
1960s–1980sThrough the 1970s, asbestos was used to fireproof roofing and flooring, for heat insulation, and for a variety of other purposes. The material was used in fire-check partitioning and doors on North Sea Oil Production Platforms and Rigs.
During mid-to late 1980s, public health concern focused on potential asbestos fiber exposures of building occupants and workers in buildings containing asbestos containing building materials (ACBM) and their risks of developing lung cancer or mesothelioma. As a consequence, the Health Effects Institute (Cambridge, MA) convened a panel to evaluate the lifetime cancer risk of general building occupants as well as service workers.
Modern regulationMain article: Asbestos and the law
This section uses abbreviations that may be confusing or ambiguous.
Specific concerns may be found on the Talk page. Please improve this section if you can.
(February 2013)In 1981, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requested information from American companies regarding the asbestos content of their products.
In 1989 the EPA issued the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule which was subsequently overturned in the case of Corrosion Proof Fittings v. EPA, 947 F.2d 1201 (5th Cir. 1991). This ruling leaves many consumer products that can still legally contain trace amounts of asbestos. For a clarification of products which legally contain asbestos, read the EPA's clarification statement. In 2010, Washington State banned asbestos in automotive brakes starting in 2014.
The EPA has proposed a concentration limit of seven million fibers per liter of drinking water for long fibers (lengths greater than or equal to 5 µm). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has set limits of 100,000 fibers with lengths greater than or equal to 5 µm per cubic meter of workplace air for eight-hour shifts and 40-hour work weeks.
OSHA regulations regarding asbestos are covered in 29 C.F.R. 1926.1101. Such work is divided into four categories.
Class I asbestos work means activities involving the removal of TSI and surfacing ACM and PACM.Class II asbestos work means activities involving the removal of ACM which is not thermal system insulation or surfacing material. This includes, but is not limited to, the removal of asbestos-containing wallboard, floor tile and sheeting, roofing and siding shingles, and construction mastics.
Class III asbestos work means repair and maintenance operations, where "ACM", including TSI and surfacing ACM and PACM, is likely to be disturbed.
Class IV asbestos work means maintenance and custodial activities during which employees contact but do not disturb ACM or PACM and activities to clean up dust, waste and debris resulting from Class I, II, and III activities.
In the United Kingdom, blue and brown asbestos materials were banned outright in 1985 while the import, sale and second hand reuse of white asbestos was outlawed in 1999. The 2012 Control of Asbestos Regulations state that owners of non-domestic buildings (e.g., factories and offices) have a "duty to manage" asbestos on the premises by making themselves aware of its presence and ensuring the material does not deteriorate, removing it if necessary. Employers, e.g. construction companies, whose operatives may come into contact with asbestos must also provide annual asbestos training to their workers
In 1984, the import of raw amphibole (blue and brown) asbestos into New Zealand was banned.In 2002 the import of chrysotile (white) asbestos was banned.
The use of crocidolite (blue) asbestos was banned in 1967, while the use of amosite (brown) asbestos continued in the construction industry until the mid-1980s. It was finally banned from building products in 1989, though it remained in gaskets and brake linings until 31 December 2003, and cannot be imported, used or recycled.Asbestos continues to be a problem. Two out of three homes in Australia built between World War II and the early 1980s still contain asbestos.
The union that represents workers tasked with modifying electrical meter boxes at residences stated that workers should refuse to do this work until the boxes have been inspected for asbestos and the head of an Australian Consortium of Trade Unions has called on the government to protect its citizens by ridding the country of asbestos by 2030.
Handlers of asbestos materials must have a B-Class license for bonded asbestos and an A-Class license for friable asbestos.
The town of Wittenoom, in Western Australia was built around a (blue) asbestos mine. The entire town continues to be contaminated, and has been disincorporated, allowing local authorities to remove references to Wittenoom from maps and roadsigns.
TurkeyA complete ban on asbestos in Turkey went into effect in 2011.
JapanRevelations that hundreds of workers had died in Japan over the previous few decades from diseases related to asbestos sparked a scandal in mid-2005. Tokyo had, in 1971, ordered companies handling asbestos to install ventilators and check health on a regular basis; however, the Japanese government did not ban crocidolite and amosite until 1995, and a full-fledged ban on asbestos was implemented in October 2004.
KoreaAsbestos use was banned in South Korea in 2009.
Contamination of other products
Asbestos and vermiculite
Vermiculite is a hydrated laminar magnesium-aluminum-iron silicate which resembles mica. It can be used for many industrial applications and has been used as insulation. Some deposits of vermiculite have been found to be contaminated with small amounts of asbestos.
One vermiculite mine operated by W. R. Grace and Company in Libby, Montana exposed workers and community residents to danger by mining vermiculite contaminated with asbestos, typically actinolite or tremolite. Vermiculite contaminated with asbestos from the Libby mine was used as insulation in residential and commercial buildings through Canada and the United States. W. R. Grace and Company's vermiculite was marketed as Zonolite.In 1999 the EPA began cleanup efforts in Libby and now the area is a Superfund cleanup area.
The EPA has determined that harmful asbestos is released from the mine as well as through other activities that disturb soil in the area.
Asbestos and talc
Talc is sometimes contaminated with asbestos.
In 2000, tests in a certified asbestos-testing laboratory found the tremolite form of amphibole asbestos in three out of eight bigger brands of children's crayons that are made partly from talc: Crayola, Prang, and RoseArt.
In Crayola crayons, the tests found asbestos levels from 0.05% in Carnation Pink to 2.86% in Orchid;in Prang crayons, the range was from 0.3% in Periwinkle to 0.54% in Yellow;in Rose Art crayons, it was from 0.03% in Brown to 1.20% in Orange.
Overall, 32 different types of crayons from these brands contained more than trace amounts of asbestos, and eight others contained trace amounts. The Art and Creative Materials Institute, a trade association which tests the safety of crayons on behalf of the makers, initially insisted the test results must be incorrect, although they later said they do not test for asbestos.
In May 2000, Crayola said tests by a materials analyst, Richard Lee, whose testimony has been accepted in lawsuits over 250 times on behalf of the asbestos industry, showed two of its crayons were negative for asbestos.
In June 2000, Binney & Smith, the maker of Crayola, and the other makers agreed to stop using talc in their products, and changed their product formulations in the United States.
The mining company, R T Vanderbilt Co of Gouverneur, New York, which supplied the talc to the crayon makers, insists there is no asbestos in its talc "to the best of our knowledge and belief",
but a news article claimed that the United States Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) did find asbestos in four talc samples that it tested in 2000.
At the time, however, the Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health informed the news reporter that his article was in error and that the reporter had misquoted him stating that “In fact, the abbreviation ND (non detect) in the laboratory report – indicates no asbestos fibers actually were found in the samples.”
Further supporting the claim of Vanderbilt that asbestos is not found in this industrial grade talc (composed of a very complex mineral mixture) is a decades old record of analytical work that does not find asbestos in this talc by mineral scientists in academia, government and contract laboratories.
Human, animal and cell health studies conducted on Vanderbilt’s controversial talc also lend no support for the presence of asbestos in this talc.
Several non fully peer-reviewed health reports concerning Vanderbilt talc do exist and suggest a "same as" asbestos risk, some of which were referenced in the previously cited news articles.
Asbestos in constructionAsbestos construction in developed countries
Older decorative ceilings, like this one, often contain small amounts of white asbestos.
1929 newspaper advertisement from Perth, Western Australia, for asbestos sheeting for residential building construction.
The use of asbestos in new construction projects has been banned for health and safety reasons in many developed countries or regions, including the European Union, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, and New Zealand. A notable exception is the United States, where asbestos continues to be used in construction such as cement asbestos pipes. The 5th Circuit Court prevented the EPA from banning asbestos in 1991 because although EPA research showed it would cost between $450 and 800 million and save around 200 lives in a 13-year length, the EPA did not provide adequate evidence for the safety of alternative products.
Until the mid-1980s, small amounts of white asbestos were used in the manufacture of Artex, a decorative stipple finish,however, some of the lesser-known suppliers of Artex were still adding white asbestos until 1999.
Removing or disturbing Artex is not recommended, as it may contain white asbestos.Prior to the ban, asbestos was widely used in the construction industry in thousands of materials, some are judged to be more dangerous than others due to the amount of asbestos and a materials friable nature. Sprayed coatings, pipe insulation and Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB) are thought to be the most dangerous due to their high content of asbestos and friable nature. Many older buildings built before the late 1990s contain asbestos. In the United States, there is a minimum standard for asbestos surveys as described by ASTM Standard E 2356-04. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency includes some but not all asbestos-contaminated facilities on the Superfund National Priorities list (NPL). Renovation and demolition of asbestos contaminated buildings is subject to EPA NESHAP and OSHA Regulations. Asbestos is not a material covered underCERCLA's innocent purchaser defense. In the UK, the removal and disposal of asbestos and of substances containing it are covered by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.
In older buildings (e.g. those built prior to 1999 in the UK, before white asbestos was finally banned), asbestos may still be present in some areas e.g. old bath panels, concrete water tanks and many other places. Being aware of asbestos locations reduces the risk of disturbing asbestos.
See the asbestos image gallery (external link) to see some common asbestos locations.Removal of asbestos building components can also remove the fire protection they provide, therefore fire protection substitutes are required for proper fire protection that the asbestos originally provided.
Asbestos construction in developing countries
Some countries, such as India, Indonesia, China, Russia and Brazil have continued widespread use of asbestos. The most common is corrugated asbestos-cement sheets or "A/C Sheets" for roofing and for side walls. Millions of homes, factories, schools or sheds and shelters continue to use asbestos. Cutting these sheets to size and drilling holes to receive 'J' bolts to help secure the sheets to roof framing is done on-site. There has been no significant change in production and use of A/C Sheets in developing countries following the widespread restrictions in developed nations.
Asbestos and 9/11As the towers collapsed, Lower Manhattan was blanketed in a mixture of building debris and combustible materials. This complex mixture gave rise to the concern that thousands of residents and workers in the area would be exposed to known hazards in the air and in the dust, such as asbestos, lead, glass fibers, and pulverized concrete.
More than 1,000 tons of asbestos are thought to have been released into the air during the destruction of theWorld Trade Center in New York on 9/11.
Inhalation of a mixture of asbestos and othertoxicants is thought to be linked to the unusually high death rate of emergency service workers from cancer since the disaster.
Many thousands more are now thought to be at risk of developing cancer due to this exposure with those who have died so far being only the 'tip of the iceberg'.
Some commentators have criticised authorities for using asbestos in the Towers' construction (see 'Other criticism' below).
In May 2002, after numerous cleanup, dust collection, and air monitoring activities were conducted outdoors by EPA, other federal agencies, New York City and New York State, New York City formally requested federal assistance to clean and/or test residences in the vicinity of the WTC site for airborne asbestos.
The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. Please improve this article and discuss the issue on the talk page. (February 2010)
Main article: Asbestos and the law
Asbestos litigation is the longest, most expensive mass tort in U.S. history, involving more than 8,400 defendants and 730,000 claimants as of 2002 according to the RAND Corporation, and at least one defendant reported claim counts in excess of $800,000 in 2006.
Current trends indicate that the worldwide rate at which people are diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases will likely increase through the next decade. Analysts have estimated that the total costs of asbestos litigation in the USA alone is over $250 billion.
The federal legal system in the United States has dealt with numerous counts of asbestos related suits, which often included multiple plaintiffs with similar symptoms. In 1999 there were 200,000 related cases pending in the federal court system of the United States.
Further, it is estimated that within the next 40 years, the number of cases may increase to 700,000. These numbers help explain how there are thousands of current pending cases.
Litigation of asbestos materials has been slow. Companies sometimes counter saying that health issues do not currently appear in their worker or workers, or sometimes are settled out of court.
The Research and Development (RAND) think tank has appropriated certain legal information which is readily available for proclaimed victims of natural resource accidents. This information has helped many workers, regardless of health condition, earn compensation through companies. RAND, along with the Institute for Civil Justice (ICJ) have been proponents of the organization of past cases in order to determine one aspect of fair compensation for workers.
1999 saw the introduction of the Fairness in Asbestos Compensation Act.
Between 1981 and the present, many asbestos companies have filed for bankruptcy. While companies filed for bankruptcy, this limited payouts to those who were actually affected by the material.
Professor Christopher Edley said what the 1999 Act ultimately would have done if passed would be to
"limit punitive damages that seek retribution for the decisions of long-dead executives for conduct that took place decades ago (Professor Christopher Edley, Jr.).”
In Australia a significant and controversial case was brought against the industrial building materials company James Hardie, which had mined and sold asbestos related products for many years.Litigation exists outside the United States in England, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, France, Italy and Japan among other nations (though the amounts awarded in these countries are not as large as in the US). See the companion article for further information.
The volume of the asbestos liability has concerned manufacturers and insurers and reinsurers. The amounts and method of allocating compensation have been the source of many court cases, and government attempts at resolution of existing and future cases.
Asbestos regulation critics include the asbestos industry and JunkScience.com owner Steven Milloy. Critics argue that the outright banning of dangerous products, due to government regulation, is inferior to keeping the products while innovating ways to prevent the lethal effects. They argue that the product benefits are too important to ignore, and instead of banning the products, find ways to eliminate risks to those who work with the products. An example is the suggestion by Dixy Lee Ray and others that the shuttle Challenger disintegrated because the maker of O-ring putty was pressured by the EPA into ceasing production of asbestos-laden putty. However, the putty used in Challenger's final flight did contain asbestos, and failures in the putty were not responsible for the failure of the O-ring that led to loss of the shuttle.
Asbestos was used in the first forty floors of the World Trade Center north tower causing an airborne contamination among lower Manhattan after the towers collapsed in the attacks on 11 September 2001. Steven Milloy of the Cato Institute suggested that the World Trade Center towers could still be standing or at least would have stood longer had a 1971 ban not stopped the completion of the asbestos coating above the 64th floor.
This was not considered in the National Institute of Standards and Technology's report on the towers' collapse. All fireproofing materials, regardless of what they are made of, are required to obtain a fire-resistance rating prior to installation. All fiber-based lightweight commercial spray fireproofing materials are vulnerable to kinetic energy impacts that are outside of the fire testing upon which their ratings are based, including asbestos-based materials, and may have been removed in large areas by the impact of the planes.
Substitutes for asbestos in construction
Fiberglass insulation was invented in 1938 and is now the most commonly used type of insulation material. The safety of this material is also being called into question due to similarities in material structure. However, the International Agency for Research on Cancerremoved fiberglass from its list of possible human carcinogens in 2001.
In 1978, a highly texturized fiberglass fabric was invented by Bal Dixit, called Zetex. This fabric is lighter than asbestos, but offers the same bulk, thickness, hand, feel, and abrasion resistance as asbestos. The fiberglass was texturized to eliminate some of the problems that arise with fiberglass, such as poor abrasion resistance and poor seam strengthIn Europe mineral wool and glass wool are the main insulators in houses.Many companies that produced asbestos-cement products that were reinforced with asbestos fibers have developed products incorporating organic fibers. One such product was known as "Eternit" and another "Everite" now use "Nutec" fibers which consist of organic fibers, portland cement and silica. Cement-bonded wood fiber is another substitute. Stone fibers are used in gaskets and friction materials.Another potential fiber is polybenzimidazole or PBI fiber. Polybenzimidazole fiber is a synthetic fiber with high melting point of 760 °C that also does not ignite. Because of its exceptional thermal and chemical stability, it is often used by fire departments and space agencies.
Old Wailuku Post Office sealed off for asbestos removalAsbestos alternatives for industrial use include sleeves, rope, tape, fabric, textiles and insulation batt materials made from fiberglass and silica.
Recycling and disposalIn most developed countries, asbestos is typically disposed of as hazardous waste in landfill sites.
Condemned buildings using asbestos in their structure, such as the Red Roadtowers in Scotland, pose huge challenges for demolition contractorsThe demolition of buildings containing large amounts of asbestos based materials pose particular problems for builders and property developers - such buildings often have to be deconstructed piece by piece, or the asbestos has to be painstakingly removed before the structure can be razed by mechanical or explosive means. One such example is the Red Road high-rise housing development in Glasgow, Scotland which used huge amounts of asbestos cement board for wall panelling - here British health and safety regulations stipulate that asbestos material has to be removed to a landfill site via an approved route at certain times of the day in specially adapted vehicles.Asbestos can be recycled by transforming it into harmless silicate glass. A process of thermal decomposition at 1000–1250 °C produces a mixture of non-hazardous silicate phases, and at temperatures above 1250 °C it produces silicate glass. Microwave thermal treatment can be used in an industrial manufacturing process to transform asbestos and asbestos-containing waste into porcelain stoneware tiles, porous single-fired wall tiles, and ceramic bricks.
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