One of the characteristics of asbestos is its resistance to heat. Because of this characteristic, asbestos has been used in many different types of industry for over two hundred years. If dangers of flame, electrical current or high heat were a possibility, this was the material chosen for containment purposes. Asbestos has been and continues to be used in many industries. Some furnace doors were lined with asbestos as well as protective gear such as gloves and fireproof aprons that could, if worn through or torn, release asbestos fibers. Plants and foundries also used asbestos materials, especially when molten metal was being poured. Some tools may also contain this material.
Asbestos has been used by the auto manufacturers since they began making cars. Brake shoes and clutch plates were often made from asbestos as well as firewalls that were placed between passenger compartments and the engine. Asbestos was also used in aluminum plants. Rooms where aluminum was extracted from bauxite were insulated with asbestos materials due to the high heat that was required for this process. Workers who worked in paper mills may have been exposed to asbestos when using drying machines and changing the machine’s felts. Moreover, the machines sometimes contained cement with deadly types of asbestos in them.
Asbestos and Factory Work
Factories that made chemicals used large amounts of asbestos and sometimes tried to deny this fact, as well as cover up the association between asbestos and injured or sick workers. The worst crimes to do with asbestos were by the manufacturers of asbestos. An attorney discovered letters in 1977 in the office of the Raysbestos Corporation of New York. These letters contained information proving that the corporations knew of the dangers that asbestos had on health for forty years or more and conspired to prevent this information from becoming public.
Mesothelioma can remain latent for a considerable amount of time before symptoms first appear. This sometimes takes twenty to fifty years after being exposed to asbestos although some who have been exposed never develop this disease. Smokers who were exposed to asbestos have a much higher risk for developing this form of cancer than those that are non-smokers. Scientists are uncertain as to why asbestos fibers cause this form of cancer although studies show that when fibers intermingle with tissue cells, this occurs at the DNA level, which causes them to mutate.