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Asbestos Timeline

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Asbestos Timeline

The word asbestos comes from the ancient Greek ἄσβεστος, meaning “unquenchable” or “inextinguishable”. Asbestos use in human culture dates back at least 4,500 years, when evidence shows that inhabitants of the Lake Juojärvi region in East Finland strengthened earthenware pots and cooking utensils with the asbestos mineral.

2000 BC Egyptians use asbestos to make burial shrouds.

1828 First U.S. patent for asbestos is issued.

1858 Johns-Manville was founded.

1860s Use of asbestos in industry and construction expands dramatically.

1890s Asbestos is used as a raw material in large manufacturing operations, exposing large numbers of workers to asbestos dust for the first time.

1906 Dr. Montague Murray reported the first case of asbestosis.

1918 Insurance companies began refusing to sell insurance to asbestos workers.

1922 U.S. Navy lists asbestos work as hazardous and recommends the use of respirators.

1924 Dr. W. E. Cooke names the lung disease associated with asbestos as asbestosis.

1929 Workers begin suing Johns Manville for damages caused by asbestos.

1930 Merewether and Price report the first epidemiological study showing asbestos exposure causes asbestosis and death.

1930s Industry knew of the link between disease and asbestos but covered it up.

1936 Johns-Manville hired the Saranac Laboratory to do research on the hazards of asbestos. The executives agreed to suppress the information.

1943 Dr. LeRoy Gardner reports asbestos a “Likely Carcinogen”

1951 Department of Labor under the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act established regulations to prevent take-home asbestos exposure from the workplace and set a standard for exposure to asbestos.

1955 Dr. Richard Doll publishes study-linking asbestos to lung cancer.

1960 Dr. J.C. Wagner publishes 33 cases of mesothelioma showing not only workers contracted the disease but also family members and residents near the mining area.

1964 Irving Selikoff describes the incidence of asbestos related disease among end product users of asbestos in his study of North American Insulation workers.

1964 Industrial representatives reported, “the only safe amount of asbestos dust exposure was zero.”

1969 Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Products Corp. was the first lawsuit against asbestos product manufacturers.

1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act passed resulting in the first workplace standard for asbestos in 1972.

1971 EPA lists asbestos as a hazardous air pollutant.

1971 OSHA and NIOSH created the first standard for regulating asbestos exposure.

1973 On appeal, the Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Products Corp. was the first legal case confirming that manufacturers have a duty to warn workers of asbestos dangers.

1976 The International Agency for Research on Cancer list asbestos as a human carcinogen and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health calls for a ban on asbestos in US workplaces.

1976 Congress passed The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 which gave EPA authority to test and regulate toxic chemicals including asbestos.

1985 EPA Publishes the ”Guidance for Controlling Asbestos-Containing Materials in Buildings”

1986 EPA Publishes the “Guidance for Prevention Asbestos Disease Among Auto Mechanics”

1989 EPA promulgates Asbestos Ban and Phase – Out Rule which was overruled by the 5th US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in 1991.

1991 Manufacturers of asbestos products challenge the EPA in court, leading to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturning the Ban and Phase-Out Rule on asbestos.

1994 Congress enacted Asbestos Bankruptcy Code Section 524(g).

1998 International Programme for Chemical Safety determines there is no safe exposure for chrysotile asbestos.

2001 The collapse of the World Trade Center towers led to the release of hundreds of tons of asbestos from the towers.

2002 U.S. stops mining asbestos in California.

2004 The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), an independent nonprofit, was founded.

2005 U.S. Senate unanimously passes the first “Asbestos Awareness Resolution.”

2006 The World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization in a policy paper and a resolution adopted respectively agreed that: all forms of asbestos are classified as human carcinogens, no threshold for “safe” exposure exists, and the elimination of asbestos use is essential to stop the global epidemic of asbestos-related disease.

2008 International Agency for Research On Cancer (IARC) ”Asbestos was considered by previous IARC Working Groups in 1972, 1976, and 1987 (IARC, 1973, 1977, 1987a).

2009 US Surgeon General Statement by Dr. Steven K. Galson 

2010 NIOSH statistics from 2000 to 2010 revealed that 43,464 Americans died from mesothelioma and asbestosis – just two of the asbestos-caused diseases.

2012 USGS reported,  “Asbestos consumption in the United States was estimated to be 1,060 tons, based on asbestos imports through July 2012.”

2013 More than 50 countries have banned asbestos – but the USA has not.

2013 US Surgeon General Statement by Dr. Regina Benjamin 

2014 US Surgeon General Statement by Dr. Boris Lushniak 

U.S. Senate Asbestos Awareness Resolutions