The History of Asbestos and Why it is so Dangerous

You may or may not be aware of the harmful properties of asbestos, which had been extensively used in construction globally until the 1970s, and in this article, we will give you some background information on the origins of asbestos use. We will also talk about how potentially harmful asbestos can be, with the aim of educating you on how to protect yourself and your family.

Asbestos is a Natural Substance

Asbestos can be found in all seven continents of our world and research tells us that people were using the substance as long ago as 3000BC. The Egyptians used asbestos to protect the dead bodies of their royal people, and around the same time, people in Europe were adding asbestos to their clay pots because it made them more fire resistant, so asbestos has been used for many centuries.

The Middle Ages

Kings of the time used asbestos cloth to wrap the bodies of important people to help preserve them for their journey to the afterlife. A French king was said to have made a tablecloth that contained asbestos to prevent spontaneous fires – something that frequently occurred because they used candles for illumination – and there are also reports of people who wove asbestos into clothing becoming sick with breathing difficulties.

The Industrial Revolution

This was a time when we began to build machinery and as asbestos does have great fire-resistance and insulation properties, it began to be widely used. Huge asbestos mines sprang up around the world, especially during the two world wars, with Russia, South Africa and Canada aggressively mining asbestos to be used in manufacturing. In the event you are planning a home renovation and are concerned that you might encounter this harmful substance, get some asbestos removal quotes in Perth from established companies.

Late 19th Century

At that time, Germany, Scotland and England started huge plants that manufactured asbestos related products, and the substance was mined manually by men and children, and in the early 1900s, asbestos was mined to the tune of 30 million tonnes globally.

The Two World Wars

The US became by far the largest user of asbestos, supplied mainly by Canadian mines, and during the Second World War, it became evident that workers with asbestos were becoming ill.

Products that included asbestos included:

  • Roads – Roads were built mixing asbestos with asphalt.
  • Asbestos insulation for electrical wiring.
  • Asbestos roofing and flooring products.
  • Engine clutch plates.
  • Auto brake pads, seals and gaskets.

The Awakening

Despite several attempts by doctors to make the world aware of the dangers of asbestos, nothing really happened until the 1970s, when experts realised that exposure to asbestos led to respiratory disease, with trade unions leading the charge to have the harmful substance banned. As years passed, more and more countries decided to ban the use of asbestos, and today, most countries in the world have banned the use of asbestos.

There are still thousands of buildings in Australia that contain asbestos, and if you are planning any renovations, make sure that you call out an established asbestos removal company to test for the presence of this harmful substance.