Asbestos Fibers - History - Industrial Era

Industrial Era

Asbestos use in England dates back to the 1700s, but did not become widespread until the Industrial Revolution during the late 1800s.

The Industrial Revolution represented a huge boom for the asbestos industry. Factories were opening everywhere and new uses for the miracle mineral were being devised on a regular basis. Commercial asbestos mines sprung up in the late 1800s and entrepreneurs recognised that asbestos could perhaps make them rich. The U.S. asbestos industry began in 1858 when fibrous anthophyllite was mined for use as asbestos insulation by the Johns Company, a predecessor to the current Johns Manville at a quarry at Ward's Hill on Staten Island, New York. Asbestos became more widespread during the industrial revolution; in 1866 it was used as insulation in the U.S. and Canada. Development of the first commercial asbestos mine began in 1874 in the Appalachian foothills of Quebec. By the mid 20th century uses included fire retardant coatings, concrete, bricks, pipes and fireplace cement, heat, fire, and acid resistant gaskets, pipe insulation, ceiling insulation, fireproof drywall, flooring, roofing, lawn furniture, and drywall joint compound.

In Japan, particularly after World War II, asbestos was used in the manufacture of ammonium sulfate for purposes of rice production, sprayed upon the ceilings, iron skeletons, and walls of railroad cars and buildings (during the 1960s), and used for energy efficiency reasons as well. Production of asbestos in Japan peaked in 1974 and went through ups and downs until about 1990, when production began to drop severely.

Read more about this topic:  Asbestos Fibers, History

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