People often associate asbestos as a modern invention, the truth of asbestos history is far, far more ancient. Asbestos is a natural fibre and is located all over the world on every continent. It is believed that the first recorded use of asbestos is 7500 years ago, with it being used in stone age torches. The Egyptians are documented using is woven into cloth, used to bury the dead in 2000-3000 bc. In 2500 bc it was being used in Finland, found added to clay to form fire-resistant pots.
The Romans and the Greeks are also known to have used Asbestos, and even documented its devastating effects on the health of the miners, with the greeks calling the effects “sickness of the lungs” and one Roman writer recording it as the “disease of slaves” after the deaths of the slaves used to mine the asbestos in Roman times.
In the middle ages, asbestos was used in all sorts of things from table cloths to trebuchets (makes the wooden catapult fireproof as they fired flaming projectiles of the walls) and even used as fireproof clothing as favoured by Genghis Khan and his Mongolian warriors. Marco Polo, the famous Italian explorer once visited an asbestos mine in China to prove to himself that the fibres were not the hairs from a fabled woolly lizard!!!
Modern Asbestos History
The modern-day use of asbestos started with the industrial revolution, again because of its almost magical fireproofing qualities. In the early days, asbestos was mined by hand, but as demand grew for the products there was an introduction of mechanised steam-driven machines. Women and children were employed in the processing of the fibres, by chipping it from the rocks!
Asbestos is banned in many countries around the world, but interestingly to of the worlds largest and most modern countries, The USA and Russia both still use asbestos, with Russia still mining over a million tonnes of the stuff every year!
If you suspect you have asbestos in your home or office, then contact Safeline Environmental who can survey, advise and if required remove your asbestos contamination.