Asbestos mining began more than 4, 000 years ago, but did not start large-scale until the end of the 19th century when manufacturers and builders used asbestos because of its desirable physical properties: sound absorption, average tensile strength, its resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage, and affordability. It was used in such applications as electrical insulation for hot plate wiring and in building insulation. When asbestos is used for its resistance to fire or heat, the fibers are often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats. These desirable properties made asbestos a very widely used material, and its use continued to grow throughout most of the 20th century until the carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects of asbestos dust caused its effective demise as a mainstream construction and fire proofing material in most countries. However around 2 million tons of Asbestos are still mined per year as of 2009, mainly in Russia (50%), China, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Canada (9% to 14% each). It is now known that prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious and fatal illnesses including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis (a type of pneumoconiosis). Health issues related to asbestos exposure can be found in records dating back to Roman times. By the beginning of the 20th century concerns were beginning to be raised, which escalated in severity during the 1920s and 1930s. By the 1980s and 1990s asbestos trade and use started to become banned outright, phased out, or heavily restricted in an increasing number of countries.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Historical production and use
This is a valuable historical documentation of production and use of asbestos. It was also interesting to understand early day perceptions regarding to commercial and industrial value of asbestos, yet a complete ignorance of health hazards. I recommend this book for those who would like to learn more about asbestos from a historical perspective.