The Fall of Asbestos

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Asbestos was popular due to its strength, flexibility, light weight, and affordability. However once asbestos is broken, sharp fibres can be released into the air. These fibres can be inhaled causing chronic respiratory issues only revealing themselves decades after inhalation.

 

The Rise

 

Asbestos has been used throughout history for many purposes including wicks in wicker laps as early as 4000 BC and between 2000-3000 BC it was used as a cloth to wrap egyptian pharaohs in to protect them from detretaration. However asbestos manufacturing did not truly flourish until the late 1800’s when the beginning of the Industrial Revolution helped grow and steady the industry. Different types of asbestos began to be discovered around the world and mining operations to extract the fibres began. Australia began mining asbestos in New South Wales in the 1880’s the fibres were used within Australia and around the world for a multitude of purposes some of these include:

  • Roofing
  • Walls
  • Ceilings
  • Flooring
  • Insulation and many more

 

At first Asbestos mining was done purely by man power but as the want and need for asbestos grew asbestos mining became industrialized. Its manpower multiplied by steam-driven machinery and new mining methods. By the early 1900s, asbestos production had grown to more than 30,000 tons annually worldwide. Children and women were sent to prepare, card and spin the raw fibers, while men remained in the mines harvesting the fibres. Asbestos Removal Cairns.

 

The Danger Emerges

 

One of the first notes in asbestos related illness began in 1897, an Austrain doctor attributed pulmonary troubles in one of his patients to asbestos dust inhalation. In 1906 the first documented death of an asbestos worker from respiratory failure was recorded by Dr. Montague Murray in a London hospital, the autopsy revealed large amounts of asbestos in his lungs. Reports began to surface of worker deaths from ‘fibrosis’ in plants around the worlds including France and Italy who also confirmed that asbestos workers were dying unnaturally young. Despite these consistent health warnings asbestos continued being mined at a higher and higher rate as demand ever increased, asbestos continued to be a cost-effective, mass-produced construction material, Asbestos Testing Cairns.

 

The Fall

 

Australia began banning Asbestos in construction in the mid-1980’s and completely banned it as of 2003 (Although in some cases exceptions have been granted). The last Asbestos mine in Australia, Wittenoom (located in Western Australia) which began mining in the 1930’s was closed in 1966 and has since been almost completely abandoned and erased from local road maps. Whereas the last asbestos mine in the U.S was closed in 2002 ending over a century’s worth of mining though some use of asbestos is still legal. Though still legal in some countries asbestos mining has been passed on to countries with looser health regulations. Asbestos mines still exist in:

  • Russia
  • China
  • Kazakhstan
  • Brazil

For more information on global asbestos mining visit:https://www.statista.com/statistics/264923/world-mine-production-of-asbestos/

Asbestos usage is banned in over 50 countries worldwide but is currently still legal in such counties as:

  • India
  • Russia
  • China
  • Kazakhstan
  • Brazil
  • Thailand
  • The United States

Though Asbestos production has slowed exponentially in developed countries, undeveloped countries are now being sold to by asbestos mines as the labor is cheap and the asbestos is a affordable building material that can used in a large variety of ways.

 

In conclusion Asbestos is still being used in today’s day and age though as we move forward it is being slowly but gradually phased out in favor of safer building materials.

 

Further Reading:

https://www.asbestos.com/asbestos/history/

http://www.asbestosnation.org/facts/asbestos-bans-around-the-world/

https://www.asbestos.com/blog/2011/12/06/6-countries-to-watch-for-asbestos-use-and-abuse/

https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=29&po=5

 

 

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