Asbestos History

What is Asbestos? When was it discovered?

In 1879 asbestos began to be widely used as an insulation material. Products containing asbestos were also manufactured for commercial use. In 1899 Dr H M Murray wrote an abstract entitled ‘Curious Bodies’ describing a man admitted to his care at Charing Cross Hospital suffering from pulmonary fibrosis of ‘obscure origin’. He had worked for ten years in an asbestos factory, and his occupation was suspected to be the cause of his death (the first recorded death from an asbestos related disease) in 1900. Dr Murray’s paper was never published.

It was not until 1924, 24 years later that the first case of asbestosis was published in the British Medical Journal by Cooke, and between 1920 and 1935 more than 100 asbestos related articles were published. These included studies into the number of cases of asbestos related disease amongst asbestos textile mill workers, the first documented case of asbestosis found in a US Insulation worker, and finally a clear correlation between dust measurement and incidence of asbestos cancer was clearly identified in 1934.

In 1931 the UK government implemented the 1931 regulations to manufacturing facilities and mills where asbestos containing products were made or sold. These addressed concerns that asbestos exposure, particularly among textile factory workers led to lung damage.

In 1942 the first pleural mesothelioma case was reported by Welder, and in 1949 the Factory Inspectorate Report produced for the UK government went on to discuss the need for workers to be aware of potential risks associated with using asbestos based packaging in factories. In 1953 the very first documented case of mesothelioma in an insulation worker was recorded by Weiss and in 1955 McLaughlin reported an increase in the number of cases of asbestosis in the UK, especially among insulation workers.

In 1960 Wagner published a paper identifying a strong correlation between mesothelioma and occupational or environmental asbestos exposure. In the paper 32 out of 33 people diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos.

From the early 1960′s there was a rapid increase in the number of lawsuits against companies that had exposed their employees to the harmful effects of asbestos.

Although the first successful claim was made in 1929, the rapid increase in lawsuits began after 1960. The employers were accused to turn a blind eye to the enormous evidence that had been presented to prove the toxicity of asbestos.

Today, an increasing number of claims are being made by employees against employers who failed to implement strict safety measures for their employees under their duty of care, rendering the employer negligent. One of the reasons for this may be that the symptoms often don’t appear until at least 20 years after asbestos exposure.

To speak to one of our specialist Asbestos Claims solicitors call us now:
01625 544 753 or email us direct on: