Asbestos was widely used in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s but was consequently banned in full by 1999 in the UK, after being found to be connected to illnesses like mesothelioma and asbestos related lung cancer. As crazy as it sounds, there are actually more asbestos related deaths in the UK per a year than from car crashes!... Let that sink in for a minute... Ready to read more?
We’ve built you a list of 23 other mind-blowing facts about asbestos. WARNING hold on to your brain tightly!
Asbestos has been used in makeup, cigarette filters, talcum powder, chalk and children’s crayons.
Asbestos exposure is the top cause of work-related deaths globally.
Asbestos actually refers to a set of six different minerals, all of which are heat resistant and strong, making them a popular material choice in a variety of products and applications. All six have been found to harm human health, but only three were commonly used in the UK: crocidolite (blue asbestos), chrysotile (white asbestos) and amosite (brown asbestos).
Asbestos was used as a whitening agent in a popular 1950’s brand of toothpaste.
Asbestos’ earliest known use was circa 2500 B.C. where asbestos fibres were mixed with clay to make stronger ceramic pots and utensils. It didn’t become an industry until 1858 when the Johns Company in New York started mining asbestos for industrial insulation.
The word “asbestos” translates from Ancient Greek, meaning “unquenchable, inextinguishable”.
Only licensed asbestos removal specialists should handle asbestos as handling, cleaning, breaking, cutting, drilling, sanding or smashing materials that contain asbestos can release the deadly asbestos fibres into the air which can be inhaled.
Asbestos has been banned in more than 60 countries.
The ancient Greeks, Romans and Persians all used asbestos and many referred to it as a form of “magic” because of it’s fire-resistant quality.
Only 40 years ago, asbestos was declared to be a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The UK is one of the countries in the world where the incidence of mesothelioma is the most prolific.
Nearly 250,000 people die from asbestos exposure and related diseases globally each year, according to studies in 2017 and 2018.
According to the World Health Organisation, one in every three deaths from occupational cancer is estimated to be caused by asbestos.
Surgeons once used asbestos thread to close incisions after heart and lung operations.
The United States is the last western industrial nation not to ban asbestos.
Old fashioned salon hair dryers with hoods and handheld dryers until the 80’s sometimes contained asbestos to stop customers from being burned.
The Word Health Organization (WHO) estimates “there are approximately 125 million people in the world who are exposed to asbestos in the workplace.”
Artificial snow was created using white asbestos, called chrysotile, because it looked so much like real snow, did not melt and was fire-proof. This made it popular to use on film and TV sets including “The Wizard of Oz”.
Nellie Kershaw from Rochdale died of pulmonary asbestosis in 1924 and her death is the first recorded case in medical literature. Because of the results of the inquest into her death, there was an enquiry by the government and a subsequent formal acknowledgement of asbestos being hazardous to health. Later on, in 1931, the Asbestos Industry Regulations were published.
In 2009, 2 MILLION tonnes of asbestos was mined, and Russia and China are the world’s largest producers of asbestos.
Due to it’s versatility, strength, flexibility, fire resistant qualities and ability to be woven, asbestos became known as the “magic mineral” and hence became so widely used in the UK during the industrial period.
The British Lung Foundation estimates that every year more than 2000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates more than 107,000 people die every year from asbestos related lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis resulting from occupational exposure.