Keasbey and Mattison Co. (Ambler)

Created by Dr. Richard V. Mattison, a well known pharmacologist, the Keasbey and Mattison Company produced both pharmaceuticals and asbestos laden products. Originally located in Philadelphia, the company would be moved to the suburbs of Ambler, outside the city. Some of the products produced included heat piping and other heating equipment. Oddly enough, the company thrived in the medicine business as well. As demand for each style product increased over time, the company expanded and met demand. Eventually the company would be purchased and its product base expanded.

The production of equipment and piping for heating purposes requires extreme temperatures. Safely manufacturing such products requires a material that keeps both employees and the production machinery safe. Dealing with common chemicals that are used to create medicine requires materials that are resistant to caustic substance. Asbestos was a product that could serve both of these needs. It is highly resistant to extremely hot temperatures, and actually is impervious to most caustic chemicals as well. Asbestos was also cheap, making it even more reasonable to use in massive production operations.

Workers in various industries during the last century were often exposed to asbestos on a regular basis. Although research first began to suggest it was a dangerous carcinogen in the 1930’s, most people simply were unaware that there were any dangers involved. Wearing protective clothing or handling the substance put employees in the pharmaceutical and heating industries at risk of developing diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. Both of which are directly related with the inhalation of asbestos over a long period of time.

Many citizens are actually surprised when they find out how prevalent asbestos was during that time period. Virtually every industry, house and commercial building had at least some form of the material. Fortunately, most people aren’t at extreme risk of developing mesothelioma. Those that produced products like those mentioned above are however. Since mesothelioma is a fast progressing form of cancer, being able to relate past exposure with current symptoms is essential. Most researchers suggest that the earlier it is detected, the better a person’s treatment options are.

This is not the only industry that subjected workers to mass amounts of asbestos. The material was widely used until the government finally recognized the dangers associated with it. Before regulations were in place, many workers seemly did not use any type of protection that would have prevented inhalation.