The History of Asbestos Use

Asbestos has just recently been found within the past few decades to be a dangerous mineral. Even before the asbestos use in the 1800’s and the subsequent health problems that came from this heavy asbestos use, people were using asbestos.     Asbestos use goes as far back as 2400 BC. It was found that asbestos had been used in places such as Finland and in Greece. In the area near Lake Juojarvi, Finland, evidence showed that the Finnish people used asbestos for things such as pots and cooking utensils. This of course, as we know now, was a very dangerous practice. The fibers of the asbestos used could have easily been scraped off of these pots and utensils. They could then contaminate the food that was cooked using the asbestos ridden pots and plates and harm the person eating the food. Ancient Grecians are also thought to have used asbestos, but it’s possible that they were using a different, similar material.     During these ancient times, it was the Romans who first noted that asbestos could cause disease and death. After observing the slaves that worked in the asbestos mines, an ancient Roman scholar noticed something. This scholar, Pliny the Younger, realized that the slaves who worked in the asbestos mines died much earlier than the other slaves and also contracted many more diseases.     Although there was talk of asbestos being dangerous in ancient times, this did not stop people from heavily using asbestos. Asbestos use continued for centuries, leading all the way up to the birth of the United States Asbestos industry.     The Industrial Revolution brought asbestos into heavy use in the United States in the 1800’s. Mines began to open, and asbestos use was rising across building and manufacturing industries. Only a couple decades after this asbestos boom, the U.S. government started to notice the same effects of asbestos as Pliny the Younger had centuries earlier. Through the following decades, the United States broke down its asbestos industry and starting banning the use of the deadly mineral.

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