1902In a publication on dangerous industries in England, the Lady Inspector of Factories, Adilaide Anderson, included asbestos among the dusts known to cause injury to workers.
1906Charing Cross Hospital physician Dr. Montague Murray reported a case of asbestosis in a 33-year-old man who had worked for 14 years in an asbestos textile plant. This was the first case of asbestos recorded.
1912In its list of industrial diseases, the American Association for Labor Litigation mentioned asbestos-related disease.
1914In a case report of a woman who worked in a German asbestos factory, a "…large number of crystals of a peculiar nature" were observed.
1918The Bulletin of U.S. Labor Statistics reported that, due to unhealthy conditions in the industry, neither Canadian nor American insurance companies would insure asbestos workers.
1935In the same year, Gloyne in the United Kingdom and Lynch and Smith in the United States both linked lung cancer with occupational exposure to asbestos. Lynch and Smith reported that a 57-year-old man who worked in a weaver in an asbestos textile plant had developed both pulmonary asbestosis and epidermoid carcinoma of the right lung.
1944Asbestos and its relationship to lung cancer was discussed by the American Medical Association.
1949An editorial calling for the medical profession to focus more attention to workers exposed to asbestos - due to their risk of developing lung cancer - was published by the American Medical Association.
1958In a review of many studies leads the author to conclude the probability of lung cancer related to asbestosis (Nordvik 1959).
1964More than 700 articles had been published in medical literature pieces worldwide by 1964 detailing asbestos exposure and its associated health effects.
1967According to researchers, asbestos workers who smoked are up to 92 times more susceptible to developing lung cancer than non-smokers and people who are not exposed to asbestos.
Decades ago, asbestos companies were well aware that asbestos caused life threatening diseases such as mesothelioma.
Because they were more concerned with protecting their profits than protecting lives, the companies chose to hide this information.
Before the start of the 20th century, people started to realize that asbestos could pose a risk to health. This goes all the way back to 1898, when inspectors of British factories recognized that workers were at risk of developing health problems due to exposure to asbestos. Soon, the U.S. began to take note as well. In 1918, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there was an “unusually high death rate” among asbestos workers. In a historic 1930 report, Drs. Merewether and Price revealed that asbestos workers were definitely at occupational risk for cancer. In 1938, it was determined that lung cancer was an occupational disease of asbestos workers.
Seven years later, both the scientific and medical communities agreed that asbestos was a carcinogen. In 1960, mesothelioma – an aggressive and devastating cancer – was linked to asbestos. A now-famous study of insulators was presented by Dr. Irving Selikoff in New York City in 1964. It was presented at a widely publicized and well-attended conference.
As the evidence continued to mount, asbestos companies actively worked to keep information regarding the health risks of asbestos exposure hidden from public view. While some companies paid for scientific research, at the same time they quelled publication of that research because they owned it. There were some companies that, for lack of a better term, “requested” information exposing the health hazards of asbestos exposure be kept confidential. Others simply chose to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the risks posed by their products.
All the while millions of people in the United States continued to be exposed to asbestos and suffered asbestos cancer risks. Each year, asbestosis, mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases kill an estimated 10,000 Americans each year.