Asbestos (Greek for “inextinguishable”) was once touted by ancient Greeks as the “miracle mineral.” The Greeks used asbestos for just about everything from clothing to household items to building materials. But they, like us, learned too quickly that this mineral had a dark side when they found that slaves who worked with the “miracle mineral” were dying of lung diseases caused by asbestos.
History repeated itself when, in 1879, an asbestos mine in the Canadian Appalachians opened, followed shortly by many the opening of many more mines throughout North America. Asbestos, the “miracle mineral” reigned for another 100 years until 1979 when regulatory agencies began restricting its use. By 1990 U.S. laws prohibited any new uses of asbestos, but still allowed its use in products that had previously been approved.
Because of its deadly nature–and the rapid rise in lawsuits–most manufacturers either discontinued or severely limited asbestos use in products where alternative materials could be substituted. Prior to this time mining and manufacturing companies knew of the dangers of this material. Many blatantly ignored the warnings and continued to subject employees to the deadly mineral without informing them of the dangerous exposure or offering any protections from it.
If you have been exposed to asbestos because of a negligent employer, please contact the law offices of Brown | Kiely, LLP serving clients in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C.