The general public only became aware of the toxic nature of asbestos in recent decades, but what about the executives in the industry? As it turns out, they were well aware of just how dangerous asbestos exposure was long before anyone else in Ohio. Despite this knowledge, they continued to put innocent workers and bystanders in dangerous and volatile situations.
Asbestos was first linked to pulmonary fibrosis — a lung-related disease — in 1900 by a physician who later discovered asbestos fibers in the 33-year-old factory worker’s lungs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics later discovered that workers exposed to asbestos had an unusually high rate of death. Workers who died after handling asbestos were later believed to have suffered from asbestosis, a temporary name affixed to the various fatal diseases that the substance can cause.
In 1948, a scientist warned the manufacturer of the Kaylo insulation brand that asbestos caused asbestosis, but the warning was ignored. Exxon released a confidential memo in 1949 that conceded that asbestos was a likely cause of disease. Less than a decade later, an internal memo from National Gypsum Co. pointed out that asbestosis was a certain outcome of inhaling asbestos dust.
Executives in the industry understood the toxicity of asbestos from very early on, but instead of protecting workers, they went to great lengths to cover up what they knew. An executive at the Bendix Corporation — now known as Honeywell — even surmised that workers who were able to have a good life because of asbestos work might as well die from diseases related to the product. Even now, Honeywell is playing a major role in causing further harm to workers as it lobbies the Senate to deny or delay compensation to victims of asbestos exposure.
Profits above workers has been an ongoing theme in the asbestos industry, and it does not appear to be disappearing any time soon. Even now, while victims suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases fight for just compensation, workers in Ohio likely are still being wrongfully exposed to the toxic substance. As it takes a significant amount of time for these diseases to develop, many victims remain unaware of the full extent of their injuries until years after they were exposed.
Source: ecowatch.com, “Asbestos Industry Knew and Kept Secret for Decades That Their Product Was Deadly”, Alex Formuzis, June 8, 2016