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The History Of Asbestos

Asbestos has a long history, but these days you want to get rid of it due to the health risks, that’s why people hire us, an Asbestos Removal Liverpool company. Asbestos has been around in this world since the early period of the human civilisation. The resisting capability of asbestos against fire, heat, chemicals, and electricity has made it very necessary for every industries related to the manufacture and use of chemicals, construction, energy, automobile, power, etc. Asbestos has also been used by the armed forces in many countries all over the world for the prevention of fires in different military locations.

The actual purpose for the use of asbestos over the time since the ancient era was to prevent people from getting affected by fire, chemicals, heat and electricity. However, every industrialists and manufacturers of products containing asbestos and asbestos fibres have always been aware of the harmful health effects and fatal diseases caused due to the working with asbestos minerals. Even though people are aware about the fact that these minerals can cause different fatal and serious diseases and have tried to protect themselves from the serious health effects by using asbestos products in a safe way, asbestos has always stayed as a big threat to the health of people. The main reason behind this is that the symptoms of the diseases that can be caused due to its exposure doesn’t start developing even in many decades and when it does, it is very hard to stay away.

Asbestos in the Ancient Era

Asbestos is found in every continent all over the world in its natural form. Archeologists have detected some fibres of asbestos in debris which is found to be dating back to about seven hundred fifty thousand years ago in the Stone Age. They have also claimed that lamps and candles had their wicks built with the help of long fibres of asbestos during the 4000s B.C. period.

Clothes made up of asbestos fibres were used for wrapping the bodies of Egyptian pharaohs during the time of 20th century B.C. to 30th century B.C. Archeologists also found some clay pots which include the fibres of asbestos used during the mid-20th century B.C. These fibres can be used for increasing the strength of clay pots. Since asbestos fibres are resistant to fire and chemicals, it can also be an advantage for pots built with these fibres. A classic Greek historian mentioned during the middle of 4th century B.C that the dead bodies were wrapped with coverings containing asbestos fibres before they were placed in the pile of woods for taking to funeral. It is believed that doing this can prevent the ashes of the dead bodies from getting mixed with the ashes of fire.

Asbestos during the Middle Ages

During the middle of the 7th century, French King Charlemagne is said to have used tablecloth woven with the fibres of asbestos for preventing it from getting accidental fires which usually used to happen during the time of celebrations and feasts. In the same way as the Greeks in the ancient era did, King Charlemagne also used asbestos-containing materials to cover up the dead bodies of his soldiers and generals. It is also believed that cremation clothes, wicks for temple lamps and mats were designed with the help of Chrysotile asbestos and Tremolite asbestos brought from Cyprus and northern region of Italy during the beginning of second millennium.

During the ending of the 11th century, the knights from France, Italy and Germany used “trebuchet“, which is a type of catapult to place flaming bags containing tar and pitch wrapped with bags designed with the fibres of asbestos in the city walls during the period of blockades. In the year 1250, popular Italian explorer Marco Polo mentioned about the different types of clothes designed by the Mongolians with the use of a non-flammable fabrics. At that time, people used to believe that asbestos was produced from the hair of wooly lizard. But, Marco Polo went to China to visit an asbestos mine to prove the thoughts of people wrong.

During the period 1680 to 1725 in the reign of Russian emperor, Peter, the Great, Chrysotile asbestos was mined. One of the founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin visited Russia for the first time in 1725 during his young age and brought a purse designed with non-flammable asbestos to England, which is now included in the Natural History Museum collection in London. In the early 18th century, papers designed with asbestos were found in Italy and just within the starting of the 19th century, the government of Italy had started producing its bank notes with fibres of asbestos. During the period of mid-19th century, the fire brigades from Paris used to wear jackets and helmets designed with asbestos.

Commercialization of Asbestos

Before the later 19th century, the manufacture of Asbestos products in industries wasn’t so beneficial and Asbestos was rarely used for manufacturing products. By the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the Asbestos product market started growing and started taking a strong place in the industry. This time period marked the starting of the commercialization of asbestos where asbestos was practically used with its different minerals for the manufacture of products in industries. Ever since the asbestos product market started flourishing, the Asbestos mines and use of asbestos for the manufacture of products started growing with very high rate. Along with this, the harmful health effects and fatal diseases started attacking the people who worked in Asbestos mines as well as those who refined the Asbestos minerals.

Due to its capability to resist fire, heat, water, electricity and chemicals, Asbestos has been used as an outstanding insulator in ovens, electrical generators, turbines, boilers and steam engines. These are the main machines and products that helped in flourishing the Industrial Revolution. Also, the ability of asbestos to get hammered or pressed without getting destroyed helped it play an important role for developing, binding and increasing the strength of materials in the industries.

Starting of Asbestos Mining Everywhere

During the early 19th century, blue asbestos (i.e. Crocidolite) was discovered in Free State of South Africa. In the year 1876, white asbestos (i.e. Chrysotile) had been detected in south-eastern part of Quebec, Canada in the Thetford Township. After the discovery of Chrysotile, the first-ever commercial asbestos mines were developed in Canada. At that time, Russians used to dig in to get the soft, fibrous types of minerals. Canadians followed the same process after the Russians. These soft form of minerals are usually found in most part of every products manufactured with the use of asbestos.

During the third quarter of the 19th century, the industries using asbestos in large scale were established in the United Kingdom (mainly in England and Scotland) and Germany. At this time, Italians were already working the asbestos mines for Tremolite mining for many years. In the 1880s, Australians also started mining asbestos in Jones Creek of New South Wales. Anthophyllite asbestos had already been mined in Finland during the beginning of the 20th century. At this period of time, brown asbestos (i.e. Amosite) was first mined in Transvaal of South America. The people in asbestos mines of Zimbabwe and Swaziland also mined Chrysotile and started providing the asbestos minerals to the whole world.

Rapid Growth in Asbestos Production

Asbestos mining didn’t have automated machines until the time of the early 19th century. People engaged in asbestos mining used to perform the chipping of rocks and finally extracting asbestos minerals by themselves which was later transferred for further processing by transporting with horses. By the time of the Industrial Revolution and demand for commercialization of asbestos, the asbestos mining prospects were starting to get industrialized and the marketplaces started flourishing. With the invention of modern mining techniques and machines run by steam, the number of people working in commercial field of asbestos mining started growing rapidly. During the early 20th century, over thirty-thousand tons of asbestos were produced every year all over the world. People working in asbestos manufacturing industries were not only men, but the number of women and children involved in this field was also increased. By the time children and women started working in the industrialized asbestos workforce, they had started producing, carding and spinning the raw forms of asbestos fibres. At the same time, the work had turned more easier for men since they were just involved in the toiling of asbestos mines.

With the commercialization of asbestos, many people started using asbestos-containing products and the number of clients was getting higher quickly. In the year 1858, Henry W. Johns established his company at the age of 21, which was named as the H.W. Jones Manufacturing Company located in Lower Manhattan. His company used to promote products such as non-flammable material used in roofs of building. These materials were designed with asbestos, tar, burlap and other major resources. H.W. Jones Manufacturing Company was using Anthophyllite asbestos transported from a quarry near to Staten Island. His company had already fostered the utilization of asbestos to a very high level before his death in the next four decades due to asbestosis. Later, his company was combined with the Manville Covering Company in the starting of the 20th century and was named as Johns Manville. This firm had already grown to become the biggest asbestos-using enterprise in the United States.

During the end of the 19th century, a British firm named Ferodo developed the earliest brake linings for carriages which don’t require horses. By the end of the 19th century, the first policy for the production cement sheets with the use of asbestos was issued in Germany. Austrian company Klinger produced asbestos gaskets containing high amount of pressure for the first time in the year 1900. By the end of the mid-1910s, Italians had already manufactured pipes with the use of asbestos for the first time.

In the East Coast and California of the United States, the asbestos mines started reaching the peak with many different operations counting to about a dozen during the second and third quarter of 20th century. West-central California-based asbestos mine, the King City Asbestos Company was the most recently operated asbestos mine which had to disappear by the year 2002.

Presence of Asbestos in Products

There are several reasons behind the heavy growth in the manufacture and use of asbestos-containing products ever since the 20th century started. When the number of industries focusing on construction materials had started growing, the necessity of products containing asbestos started getting larger over the period of time.

Different vehicles were invented during the 20th century in the perspective of the United States. Due to this, the requirement for more durable roads was also felt. In the second quarter of 20th century, many roads were constructed in the United States with the help of asbestos-based asphalt concretes.

Different Products which contain Asbestos

  • Compounds necessary for roofing flooring
  • Clutches in automobiles and airplanes
  • Insulation for electric wiring
  • Cements
  • Mill-board and Paper for electric panels
  • Brake pads, linings, seals and gaskets in cars and airplanes
  • Fillers and Re-enforcement needed for plasters, paints and caulks
  • Thermal insulation needed in buildings
  • Steel girders coated with spray-on and non-flammable materials in buildings
  • Packing materials free from acids and heat