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History of Mesothelioma

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Mesothelioma is more treatable when diagnosed early.

The History of Asbestos/ Mesothelioma

Asbestos use dates back to 4000 BC when it was used in wicks for lamps and candles. In the 1890s, asbestos, which previously had few industrial uses, becomes a raw material for large manufacturing industries, exposing large numbers of workers to asbestos dust for the first time. Asbestos-caused disease often develops decades after a person was first exposed. As a result, it was not until the early 1900s that large numbers of workers developed symptoms.

1890s - Asbestos, which previously had few industrial uses, becomes a raw material for large manufacturing industries, exposing large numbers of workers to asbestos dust for the first time. Asbestos-caused disease often develops decades after a person was first exposed. As a result, it was not until the early 1900s that large numbers of workers developed symptoms.

1918 - A Prudential Insurance Company official in 1918 made a note that insurance companies would not cover asbestos workers because of the "health-injurious conditions of the industry." The first known asbestos lawsuit was in 1929 in New Jersey .

1930 - Major asbestos company Johns-Manville produced a report in 1930 intended for internal company use only about medical reports of asbestos worker fatalities. Just two years later, a letter from the U.S. Bureau of Mines to another manufacturer, Eagle-Picher, stated "It is now known that asbestos dust is one of the most dangerous dusts to which man is exposed."

1932 - Letter from U.S. Bureau of Mines to asbestos manufacturer Eagle-Picher states: "It is now known that asbestos dust is one of the most dangerous dusts to which man is exposed."

1933 - Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. doctors find that 29 percent of workers in a Johns-Manville plant have asbestosis. Johns-Manville officials settle lawsuits by 11 employees with asbestosis on the condition that the employees' lawyer agree to never again "directly or indirectly participate in the bringing of new actions against the Corporation."

1934 - Officials of two large asbestos companies, Johns-Manville and Raybestos -Manhattan, edit an article about the diseases of asbestos workers written by a Metropolitan Life Insurance Company doctor. The changes minimize the danger of asbestos dust.

1935 - Officials of Johns-Manville and Raybestos -Manhattan instruct the editor of Asbestos magazine to publish nothing about asbestosis.

1936 - A group of asbestos companies agrees to sponsor research on the health effects of asbestos dust, but require that the companies maintain complete control over the disclosure of the results.

1942 - An internal Owens-Corning corporate memo referred to "medical literature on asbestosis . . . scores of publications in which the lung and skin hazards of asbestos are discussed." Following this, the president of Johns-Manville said that the managers of another asbestos company were "a bunch of fools for notifying employees who had asbestosis." When one of the managers asks, "Do you mean to tell me you would let them work until they dropped dead?" The response is reported to have been, "Yes. We save a lot of money that way."

1942 or 1943 - The president of Johns-Manville says that the managers of another asbestos company were "a bunch of fools for notifying employees who had asbestosis." When one of the managers asks, "do you mean to tell me you would let them work until they dropped dead?" The response is reported to have been, "Yes. We save a lot of money that way."

1951 - Asbestos companies in 1951 removed all references to cancer before allowing publication of research they sponsored. The next year, John-Manville's medical director recommended that warning labels be attached to asbestos products. He later testified that he believed the reason his suggestion was ignored was because it would have had a negative affect on sales. Records indicate that numerous other warnings were ignored or modified by asbestos officials before reaching workers throughout the decade.

1952 - Dr. Kenneth Smith, Johns-Manville medical director, recommends (unsuccessfully) that warning labels be attached to products containing asbestos. Later Smith testifies: "It was a business decision as far as I could understand . . . the corporation is in business to provide jobs for people and make money for stockholders and they had to take into consideration the effects of everything they did and if the application of a caution label identifying a product as hazardous would cut into sales, there would be serious financial implications."

1953 - National Gypsum's safety director writes to the Indiana Division of Industrial Hygiene, recommending that acoustic plaster mixers wear respirators "because of the asbestos used in the product." Another company official notes that the letter is "full of dynamite," urges that it be retrieved before reaching its destination. A memo in the files notes that the company "succeeded in stopping" the letter, which "will be modified."

1964 - Dr. Irving Selikoff publishes a study of asbestos workers in the Journal of the American Medical Association, proving that people who work with asbestos-containing materials have an abnormal incidence of asbestosis, lung cancer, and Mesothelioma .

1964 - A study of asbestos workers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association proved that people working with asbestos-containing materials had an abnormal incidence of asbestosis, lung cancer and Mesothelioma .

1971 - First OSHA asbestos-exposure standard was issued in 1971, followed by an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ban on spray-on asbestos insulation in 1973. The Manville Trust was formed in 1974 to settle asbestos personal-injury claims resulting from exposure to asbestos-related products mined or manufactured by the Johns-Manville Corp. and its affiliated entities. By 1978, a judge ruled there was "a conscious effort by the [asbestos] industry in the 1930s to downplay or arguably suppress the dissemination of information to employees and the public for fear of the promotion of lawsuits." After this statement, the EPA announced its intention to issue a rule banning all uses of asbestos.

1973 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bans spray-on asbestos insulation as an air pollution hazard.

1978 - Judge rules there had been "a conscious effort by the [asbestos] industry in the 1930s to downplay or arguably suppress, the dissemination of information to employees and the public for fear of the promotion of lawsuits."

1979 - U.S. EPA announces intention to issue rule that bans all uses of asbestos.

1986 - OSHA tightens asbestos-exposure standard.

1989 - OSHA tightened asbestos-exposure standard in 1986. By 1989, the EPA had banned asbestos in most major uses. However, a federal lawsuit by the asbestos companies in 1991 overturned the EPA's asbestos ban. OSHA tightened asbestos-exposure standards again in 1994. Finally, in 1999, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Owens Corning willfully withheld information about the danger of working with the company's asbestos products stating, "It would be difficult to envision a more egregious set of circumstances.a blatant disregard for human safety involving large numbers of people put at life-threatening risk."

1991 - Asbestos companies win federal lawsuit, court revokes EPA's 1989 asbestos ban.

1994 - OSHA tightens asbestos-exposure standard.

1999 - Florida Supreme Court rules that Owens Corning willfully withheld information about the danger of working with the company's asbestos products: "It would be difficult to envision a more egregious set of circumstances . . . . a blatant disregard for human safety involving large numbers of people put at life-threatening risk."

2003 - In 2003, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced legislation to set up a $108 billion national trust fund to compensate asbestos victims, cap business liability and ease the filing of lawsuits.

2005 - It is estimated that there will be about 250,000 cases of Mesothelioma before 2020.

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