the north face nuptse Asbestos and Government Coverups
The health risks associated with asbestos exposure have been known since the turn of the 20th Century. Dr H. Montague Murray of London, found asbestos fibers in a deceased 33 yr old asbestos worker in 1900. In 1917, Dr. Henry K. Pancoast of the University of Pennsylvania medical school, found lung scarring in five asbestos factory workers. Only one year later, an insurance statistician reported that due to the assumed health risks, insurers commonly denied coverage to asbestos workers. By the 1930’s, the asbestos manufacturers and their insurance companies knew that the asbestos would kill. In 1934, Aetna insurance company published a textbook in which they devoted a full chapter to asbestos, saying that asbestosis was ‘incurable and usually results in total permanent disability followed by death.” (Bowker, pg.18)So now armed with this knowledge, by the time World War II started, the risks of asbestos had been recognized and the industry was starting to slide into decline. The war changed all that. The asbestos industry exploded with the massive production to place asbestos in ships. All prior safety knowledge was promptly forgotten and the asbestos industry boomed again.
There is an ’embarrassing’ number of documents that surfaced during the many court cases over the years. These prove the asbestos corporations were well aware of the dangers of asbestos and willfully withheld this information from their employees. Scans of the following documents are available to be read on the Asbestos Think Again website. Excerpts of these documents show:
In a 1958 National Gypsum Memo “We know that you will never lose sight of the fact that perhaps the greatest hazard in your plant is with men handling asbestos. Because just as certain as death and taxes is the fact that if you inhale asbestos dust you get asbestosis.”
A 1969 Travelers Insurance Co. memo states: “confidentially Johns Manville has been contaminating the ‘hell’ out of both the air and the water for quite some time.
“In 1975, an insurance industry memo summarized non workplace exposure. Forty percent of homemakers and 50% of blue collar workers had identifiable asbestos fibers in their lungs at death. It was the first time the country recognized a company’s duty to warn their employees about the dangers of asbestos. There were more than 16,000 asbestos/mesothelioma cases filed in the next 10 years.