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What's the history of asbestos?

Believe it or not asbestos has been used for thousands of years. The Greeks were the first to use the substance for the wicks of their "eternal flames." By adding asbestos to the wicks, it would allow them to endure the challenge of being lit for extended periods of time in their temples without the need to switch them out.

Egyptians also used asbestos in their embalming practices. They would embalm their holy kings in asbestos-infused garments, which would -- the like the sacred wicks of the Greeks -- endure the test of time. The Romans took the use of asbestos even further, in extremely dangerous ways. They wove asbestos into their tablecloths and napkins so that they could clean them by throwing them into the fire. The napkins and tablecloths would come out of the fire brighter and whiter than ever before -- like magic! Going back even further, we can find asbestos in pottery from the Stone Ages.

The fire-retardant and long-lasting qualities of asbestos are indeed miraculous. Without knowing that it causes lung disease, most people would marvel at the practical uses of asbestos as a substance which helps things last. However, in China, it was known that the slaves who made fabrics with asbestos fibers developed lung problems over time.

However, the true nature of asbestos and its dangers was not discovered until after the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s, when factories increased their demand for asbestos to incorporate the material into goods for all areas of life. For example, train builders used it to insulate their steam engines and shipbuilders used ti to fireproof boats. Next, it was the automotive industry, who used it for brakes and other car parts. Homebuilders also used asbestos to fireproof homes.

It took a long time before doctors in the United States began to understand the true dangers of asbestos and why it causes fatal lung diseases. If you are suffering from a lung disease related to asbestos exposure at your job, you may be able to receive workers' compensation benefits to make your life easier.

Source: Damico Law Offices LLC, "Asbestos Claims," accessed Nov. 24, 2017

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