a picture of a pile of books to explain the history of asbestos

The History of Asbestos

Despite the fairly recent discovery that asbestos can cause significant damage to the health of those that encounter the mineral, asbestos has been used for centuries in many different industries. Below, AAR Environmental will take you through the history of asbestos, from its initial discovery to its eventual ban in the year of 1999.

As a naturally occurring mineral which offered excellent fire and heat resistant properties, Asbestos was said to have first been discovered on the ancient Greek island of Ewoia, believed to have been the site of the first asbestos mine. Due to its unique toughened properties, it was quickly utilized to build structures, create fabrics, and wrap the dead as they were laid to rest.

It was official; asbestos was the discovery of the century. However, it wasn’t without its risks. One ancient Roman scholar, Pliny the Younger (61-112 AD), noted that slaves who mined the asbestos grew seriously ill and often died young. The connection between the mysterious illness and the asbestos exposure wasn’t identified until many centuries later.

Fast-forward to the late 1800s, to the time of the Industrial Revolution. The use of asbestos within commercial properties increased resoundly, particularly in North America. Asbestos was used in factories, for railway tracks, for insulating boilers, and even in ovens. In the early 1900s, asbestos mining grew rapidly, eventually requiring the labour of women and children in order to keep up with the high demand.

One important date in the history of asbestos is 1918, when the U.S Government officially recognised asbestos as a risk. The danger was noticed upon the release of a report which revealed a high early death rate among asbestos workers. The UK was only slightly behind on the discovery, with industry regulations put into place in the 1930s to protect the safety of those handling asbestos.

Decades later, with thousands of cases confirming that exposure to asbestos can cause illness such as lung cancer and Mesothelioma, over 40 countries have officially banned the mineral’s use in industries where it previously thrived.

Unfortunately, as the history of asbestos spans centuries, its impact could still be lingering in your property today. If you are concerned about suspected asbestos in your commercial or domestic property, please do not hesitate to give the team a call today at 01923 260043 for a consultation with expert asbestos removers.