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The Findings and Hidings of the Dangers of Asbestos

Due to the interests of profits, the findings and studies done that supported the fact that asbestos was dangerous and caused cancer were hidden. Asbestosis was first noticed in 1900 by a physician from London. The disease was found in the lung of a young worker. Insurance companies went to work following this, because in 1918 an insurance company would not insure asbestos workers based on this disease. In 1924 a report was released called Fibrosis of the Lungs Due to the Inhalation of Asbestos Dust.

Suppressed Evidence

Irving J. Selikoff was an American asbestos researcher and in 1965 he presented his research to a congress in New York. He showed the congress an epidemiological study of 1,522 men that worked with asbestos insulation. The workers who had worked with asbestos for more than 20 years got lung cancer at rates seven times higher than the general population. He concluded that, “Heavy contact with asbestos during a single month in one’s life can cause mesothelioma cancer decades later, and the risk of lung cancer doubles. This is not a hypothesis, but certain knowledge.” Note that this was in 1965, so the dangers of asbestos were known well before any real regulations were put into place.

The president of the board of directors of SUVA, the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund, stated in a documentary that “We underestimated the problem for a long time… I have to say that it was recognized as an occupational disease very quickly, and the permissible limits were lowered so that at least sprayed-on asbestos couldn’t be used anymore. In retrospect, however, you’d have to say that we certainly already knew in the 1940s and 50s.”

In South Africa, the asbestos industry was particularly strong. In 1982, an English science journal called New Scientist, wrote about how the asbestos industry in South Africa attempted to stop the publication of scientific studies on the dangers of asbestos exposure. The asbestos industry in South Africa denied the connection between exposure to asbestos and related diseases up until the 1970s and did not allow the publication to publish studies, denied them research money and disallowed field studies on its sites. There were multiple cover-ups done by the asbestos industry during this time.

Asbestos Lawsuits

In the 1960s, in the US, the first complaints against asbestos companies were being filed. The first big trial included eleven American companies, taking place in 1966. Companies that were sued included the asbestos giant Johns-Manville, Owens Corning Fiberglass and Fiberboard. Three years after the trial began the workers who sued were awarded payments for damages. In 1978 five thousand workers at a shipyard in California filed a class action lawsuit against fifteen of the biggest producers of asbestos in the US. Between the years 1970 and 2004, 37 companies in the US went bankrupt because of asbestos lawsuits. In 1976 workers at some Johns-Manville plants went on strike, calling for better protection measures and protesting the fact that 12 of the workers died within 14 months. In a California shipyard it was found that 17 out of 25 workers whose lungs were examined had asbestos damage in their lungs.

The US consumed the most asbestos in the world until the 1980s. The peak consumption in the US was in 1973, when the dangers of asbestos were fully known, as noted previously in the research presented by Irving J. Selikoff concluding that the dangers of asbestos were not a hypothesis, “but certain knowledge.” At least $100 billion has been paid out to victims of asbestos-related diseases by US companies.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma, please call the Halpern Law Firm at (800) 505-6000 for legal help. We work tirelessly to help get the victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases the compensation they deserve from companies that were negligent and put profits before the health of their workers. For more information, fill out our form.

Sources:

https://www.etui.org/sites/default/files/ez_import/FINAL_The_Asbestos_Lie.pdf

Written By Sadie Gold

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