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Silent film, with titles, on the production of asbestos at the Johns-Manville Co. plant. “Magic fibers – yesterday a curiosity, today a necessity – developed by the skill and resources of a great organization.”
Originally a public domain film from the National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).
Asbestos (pronounced: /æsˈbɛstəs/ or /æsˈbɛstɒs/) is a term used to refer to six naturally occurring silicate minerals. All are composed of long and thin fibrous crystals, each fiber being composed of many microscopic ‘fibrils’ that can be released into the atmosphere by abrasion and other processes. Asbestos is an excellent electrical insulator and is highly resistant to heat, so for many years it was used as a building material. However, it is a well known health hazard, and today its use as a building material is banned in many countries. Inhalation of asbestos fibres can lead to various serious lung conditions, including asbestosis and cancer.
Archaeological studies have found evidence of asbestos being used as far back as the Stone Age to strengthen ceramic pots, but large-scale mining began at the end of the 19th century when manufacturers and builders began using asbestos for its desirable physical properties. Asbestos was widely used during the 20th century until the 1970s when public recognition of the health hazards of asbestos dust led to its outlawing in mainstream construction and fireproofing in most countries. Despite this and in part because the consequences of exposure can take decades to arise, at least 100,000 people a year are thought to die from diseases related to asbestos exposure.
Despite the severity of asbestos-related diseases, the material has been used widely all around the world, and most pre-1980s buildings are thought to contain asbestos. Many developing countries also still support the use of asbestos as a building material, and mining of asbestos is ongoing, with the top producer Russia producing around one million metric tonnes in 2015…
The first diagnosis of asbestosis was made in the UK in 1924. Nellie Kershaw was employed at Turner Brothers Asbestos in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England from 1917, spinning raw asbestos fibre into yarn. Her death in 1924 led to a formal inquest. Pathologist William Edmund Cooke testified that his examination of the lungs indicated old scarring indicative of a previous, healed, tuberculosis infection, and extensive fibrosis, in which were visible “particles of mineral matter … of various shapes, but the large majority have sharp angles.” Having compared these particles with samples of asbestos dust provided by S. A. Henry, His Majesty’s Medical Inspector of Factories, Cooke concluded that they “originated from asbestos and were, beyond a reasonable doubt, the primary cause of the fibrosis of the lungs and therefore of death”.
As a result of Cooke’s paper, parliament commissioned an inquiry into the effects of asbestos dust by E. R. A. Merewether, Medical Inspector of Factories, and C. W. Price, a factory inspector and pioneer of dust monitoring and control. Their subsequent report, Occurrence of Pulmonary Fibrosis & Other Pulmonary Affections in Asbestos Workers, was presented to parliament on 24 March 1930. It concluded that the development of asbestosis was irrefutably linked to the prolonged inhalation of asbestos dust, and included the first health study of asbestos workers, which found that 66% of those employed for 20 years or more suffered from asbestosis. The report led to the publication of the first Asbestos Industry Regulations in 1931, which came into effect on 1 March 1932. These regulated ventilation and made asbestosis an excusable work-related disease. The term mesothelioma was first used in medical literature in 1931; its association with asbestos was first noted sometime in the 1940s. Similar legislation followed in the U.S. about ten years later.
Approximately 100,000 people in the United States have died, or are terminally ill, from asbestos exposure related to ship building…
The United States government and asbestos industry have been criticized for not acting quickly enough to inform the public of dangers, and to reduce public exposure. In the late 1970s, court documents proved that asbestos industry officials knew of asbestos dangers since the 1930s and had concealed them from the public…