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Asbestos-related diseases claim the lives of thousands annually, while severely impacting the lives of those suffering from these illnesses, as well as their families. At Seth Lovis & Co, we specialise in helping the victims of these conditions receive compensation – and if you feel you could benefit through us, contact our department today on 0370 218 4025.

Since the dangers of asbestos became apparent during the 1970s, various forms of legislation have come into effect in order to regulate this material. Eventually, a complete ban was implemented in 1999, prohibiting individuals from importing, supplying, and using this substance in the UK.

Unfortunately, as conditions such as mesothelioma can develop up to 60 years after a person originally came into contact with asbestos, those who used this material decades ago could only just be beginning to suffer adverse effects.

Numerous individuals die of these illnesses every year. This tragic loss of life could have potentially been avoided if employers had known about – and acted upon – the dangers of asbestos before the 1970s. Yet, it seems other civilisations realised this material could be hazardous – after their workers started succumbing to asbestos-related illnesses.

A brief history of asbestos

Although it is hard to pinpoint when asbestos was first used, sources suggest this material was first utilised more than 2000 years ago, apparently to manufacture textiles such as clothing, napkins, and shrouds.

Reportedly, the first mention of asbestos occurs in around 300 BC. The Ancient Greeks named this substance (which means inextinguishable), most likely in reference to its fire-resistant and insulating properties. Elsewhere, the Romans chose a different name for asbestos, calling it "amiantus" (which means unpolluted).

Eventually, Pliny the Elder (a Roman naturalist) and Strabo (a Greek geographer) both realised that slaves who used asbestos in textiles were developing a "sickness of the lungs". Although they could have acted on this information, they chose not to; most likely prioritising the quality of goods over the wellbeing of their workforce.

There are also rumours claiming that the properties of asbestos were observed by figures such as Charlemagne and Marco Polo. Regardless, this material became increasingly uncommon until the industrial revolution, when numerous companies began using this substance for a wide variety of purposes.

Researchers began noticing high mortality rates among asbestos workers between 1917 and 1918, yet the first recorded death from asbestosis was only detected in 1924. Sadly, it seems individuals had to wait many more years before employers finally took action.

Unfortunately, despite the dangers of asbestos being apparent, many people still come into contact with this dangerous material today. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, approximately 125 million individuals worldwide still suffer asbestos exposure in the workplace.

Have you developed an asbestos-related disease?

This short history demonstrates that the thousands of people who succumb to asbestos-related illnesses annually could have potentially been prevented from suffering their conditions if employers paid attention to the lessons of the past.

Our team of solicitors are here to help those adversely affected claim compensation – and if you were harmed by asbestos in the workplace, you should contact our department today on 0370 218 4025 for more information about obtaining damages.

Alternatively, please complete an online enquiry form and we will respond at a time convenient to you.

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