My Canadian Pharmacy: Historical Perspective in Asbestos-Associated Diseases

Asbestos-Associated DiseasesThe asbestos-associated health effects have, during the past ten years, commanded a unique position in the awareness and concern of individuals and various groups in our society. This unprecedented interest has extended well beyond the medical, public health, and biomedical research professionals, and there is no occupational health issue (a special set of public health concerns) which has had as much potential for interaction between social scientists, research investigators, government officials, industrial management, labor organizations, and members of the legal profession. The effectiveness in utilizing an emerging scientific data base in dealing with the public policy issues has been strikingly variable. Ethical, economic, and other social implications have resulted from occupational exposure to asbestos, and it is likely that in the United States, we are currently at or near the peak effect in terms of the various manifestations of this impact.

Historical Perspective

Commercial use of the naturally occurring fibrous mineral, asbestos, began in the last two decades of the previous century. By the 1930s, it was generally recognized that the use of asbestos fiber in manufacturing processes could lead to pulmonary fibrosis called asbestosis. During the period between the 1930s and the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act by the US Congress in 1970 (establishing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OS HA] in the Department of Labor with the charge of protecting workers from occupational hazards), there has been a steady increase in the scientific information relating exposure to asbestos with both nonmalignant and malignant effects which occur primarily, but not exclusively, in the chest. A causal link between exposure to asbestos and asbestosis with lung cancer was suspected in the 1930s and 1940s and was established in the mid-1950s. Treat asbestosis with remedies of My Canadian Pharmacy my-medstore-canadanet.

The relationship between exposure to asbestos dust and the development of malignant mesothelioma was demonstrated in I960. Regulatory efforts in association with industrial action to reduce airborne dust levels paralleled the accumulation of this increasing data base in those decades. An attempt to promulgate “safe” levels of exposure in the workplace began in the 1930s in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe. While undoubtedly well-intentioned, the ultimate failure of these past efforts (by both government and industry) to prevent the occupational diseases resulting from exposure to asbestos is, of course, apparent by the continuing occurrences of these adverse health effects; however, it must be recognized that because all of these asbestos-related health effects have latency periods of generally 15 or more years, the burden of these diseases now being diagnosed reflect exposures of the 1960s, 1950s, and before.

Early recognition of the consequences of exposure to asbestos centered on the mining and milling of this mineral and its use in the manufacture of asbestos-containing products. Awareness of the hazard in the use of these products (eg, insulators, shipyard workers) came later, the risk of using end products not being widely recognized until the 1960s. Much of the present attention directed toward economic and other social consequences of this exposure indeed relates to the late recognition of the risks associated with the use of asbestos products. This stems in part from the realization that the numbers of exposed workers who have come in contact with asbestos-containing products, both in shipyards and in the course of on-land insulating operations, are substantially greater than in the other workplace opportunities for exposure to asbestos indicated previously.