Mineral wool was a type of insulation used in homes, offices and industrial settings, such as chemical plants and aluminum plants. It was used to keep these venues cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Mineral wool was thought to be especially safe and effective as an insulator because it contained asbestos. Asbestos, a fire resistant material, provided extra protection from severe weather conditions.
Asbestos is a mineral that is found in large natural deposits. Toward the end of the 1800s, several companies began to mine the material for use in insulation and other products. By the 1950’s hundreds of manufacturers regularly included asbestos in items they sold. These products were used at various locations across the nation.
In the late 1960’s some disturbing facts were unearthed about asbestos. It was found to be a one of the major causes of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that affects the lining of the chest and abdomen. Goods like asbestos mineral wool contained millions of tiny asbestos fibers. There was no danger as long as the installation remained intact, but when the insulation was installed, moved or otherwise disturbed, there was a chance that some of these fibers could become separated and either float in the air or attach to clothing, walls and other surfaces. These tiny asbestos particles were very dangerous because they could be inhaled by humans and become lodged in their respiratory system.
When asbestos is breathed in, it can do a large amount of damage. People who have spent time around products that contain this hazardous material have developed tissue scarring in the lungs, respiratory problems and cancer. Asbestosis and mesothelioma are two diseases that are direct results of asbestos exposure.