At first, the silicate mineral asbestos seemed like a wonder building material. It has many extraordinary physical properties such as it absorbs sounds, has a relatively high tensile strength and is resistant to heat. These physical properties led manufacturers world-wide to use asbestos in the production of a wide variety of construction materials and consumer goods. As examples, asbestos was used a building insulation, wiring insulation and vehicle brake pads.
Unfortunately, asbestos also has serious health risks. It was noted as far back as Roman Times that slaves who worked in the asbestos mines became ill. Beginning in the early part of the 20th Century, modern-day researchers began to link deaths and lung-related illness to working in asbestos mines. By the mid-20th Century the link between the inhalation of asbestos dust and lung-related illnesses such as mesothelioma was well established.
Although the scientific link between asbestos and lung-related health issues was well known, court cases in the 1970s revealed that certain officials within the asbestos industry concealed the dangers from their workers and the general public. Today, because of the danger, asbestos is generally banned in construction and manufacturing.
Although banned, millions of people world-wide were exposed to asbestos during mining, processing, manufacturing and even as consumers.
Additional asbestosis and mesothelioma information can be readily found on the internet.