Mesothelioma, pulmonary fibrosis and other respiratory cancers related to asbestos exposure has been in the news now for about 20 years. We’ve all seen the late-night television commercials advertising compensation for people diagnosed with the condition. Most of us have some familiarity with the topic; enough to know that either breathing asbestos fibers directly into the lungs or absorbing it through the skin into the blood steam can result in a non-curable fatal cancer.
You Have Every Right to Feel Angry
Why do we think it is important for you to know about the history of asbestos and mesothelioma? Because if you or someone in your family has been diagnosed with the deadly condition, you have the right to be angry. You have the right to know how long industrial manufacturers and production facilities have known about the condition and its causes. And you have the right to know they are liable for hurting you and your family.
The first medical documentation of the health hazards of asbestos exposure can generally be traced to a published article in the British Medical Journal in 1924, with follow-up medical survey results published in 1930. These published articles, in themselves, provide documented evidence that manufacturers were aware of the health hazards for more than four decades before the first asbestos litigation case was brought to a U.S. court in 1973.
What many people don’t realize, however, is that the danger of asbestos is nothing new. Not at all, in fact. While American manufacturers and corporate interests continue to claim they weren’t aware, the reality is that they can’t hide from documented history.
A Brief History of Just How Long People Have Known of the Dangers
If you still need more reason to give yourself permission to seek the compensation you deserve, here is a brief history of what the manufacturers knew and when they knew it:
Earliest Known Use
As early as 5,000 B.C.E., ancient Egyptians and other cultures were using asbestos in burial wraps, pottery, lamp wicks and other household items due to its unique characteristics related to fire. Roman historical writer Pliney the Elder (d. 79 C.E.) cited the respiratory problems suffered by slaves working in rock quaries where asbestos dust was known to be present. By the middle ages, asbestos was being woven into table cloths and draperies, in an effort to reduce fires in palaces.
Industrial Revolution Period
By the mid-1700s, there is already documented evidence of respiratory conditions which would likely be diagnosed as mesothelioma in today’s medical terminology. A French pathologist autopsied thousands of corpses and discovered two cases of pleural tumors associated with mesothelioma today. Further studies pursued by the medical community in the early 1800s. The researchers attributed the tumors to asbestos exposure as a primary cause, but early manufacturers were already disregarding the conclusions. There was still a sliver of hope that the pleural tumors were related to other kinds of cancers in the body. More studies were needed.
In 1924, Dr. H.E. Robertson of the Mayo Clinic, writing in the Journal of Cancer Research, concluded that the medical community had no reason to suspect that pleural tumors were a secondary cause to other types of cancer. He concluded that the tumors could only be a result of asbestos exposure. By 1930, a medical survey had been conducted, proving conclusively that there was a direct link between mesothelioma and pleural tumors in the lining around the lungs, which today we call mesothelioma.
In the decades since, numerous studies have been conducted and published, proving a direct link to asbestos. Despite proof positive, manufacturers continue to deny the cause-and-effect and workers continue to get sick and die.
We’ll say it again: You have every right to be angry.