A Brief History of Asbestos

Not too long ago asbestos was looked at as a miracle mineral. Its fireproofing capabilities gave asbestos longevity in the automotive, manufacturing, and construction industries. It even played a significant role in the power and chemical industries throughout the 1900s. Of course, now we know of all the adverse health effects of asbestos. Sadly, that wasn’t always the case. Asbestos has a long and complicated history that lead to its rise and fall in American industry. If you suspect you’re in the vicinity of asbestos, consider asbestos abatement. Here is a brief history of asbestos:

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Ancient Times

The earliest discovered asbestos fibers date back almost 750,000 years to the Stone Age. Since then, asbestos was a commonly used product on every continent. In Egypt, they used to use asbestos cloths to prevent the bodies of pharaohs from deteriorating in their tombs. The Greeks used a similar shroud in funeral ceremonies. As far back as asbestos use goes, so does their negative health effects. The Greeks and Romans made note of the health issues faced by asbestos minors back in the day.

Middle Ages

By the Middle Ages, asbestos was still a heavily used product. France’s King Charlemagne took a note from the Egyptians and Greek and utilized asbestos shrouds to bury his generals. Other favorite uses for asbestos in the Middle Ages included wicks of candles, tablecloths, mats, and cremation cloths. The two major suppliers of asbestos were the Greeks from Cyprus and the Italians from northern Italy.

19th Century

The 19th century is when the commercialization of asbestos really took off. Due in part to the Industrial Revolutions, the various properties of asbestos were exploited. It was applied to nearly every industry because it could withstand extreme temperatures without conducting electricity. Since asbestos mining had not been mechanized yet, miners continued to suffer from adverse health effects.

20th Century

The first documented death of asbestos occurred in 1906. It was undeniable that the victim died from asbestos inhalation as the autopsy revealed asbestos fibers in the victim’s lungs. As more cases of asbestos inhalation occurred, insurance companies made it harder for miners to find coverage. The 20th Century saw such a boom in the population that asbestos use continued to rise as well. In fact, despite the lengthy knowledge of asbestos harming humans that deal with it, the last asbestos mine in America did not close until 2002. Asbestos abatement should be considered by anyone who thinks they may be at risk of asbestos exposure.


Asbestos has a myriad of negative health effects. Mesothelioma is one of the most severe results of asbestos inhalation. While most people will go their entire life without asbestos exposure, it’s important to understand your chances. For those at risk, call the professionals for asbestos abatement immediately. Contact Atlantic Bay Contracting at 617.782.4986 or visit them online.