An article written in the 1938 textbook series University Of Knowledge described asbestos as ‘a remarkable substance created by nature in one of her fanciful moods.‘ Back then it was used in just about everything including wall linings, heat insulation, boiler coverings, wall board, yarn, conveyor belts, theater soundproofing, fire-proof paper and even clothing.
Man believed he had found the answer to ‘commercial’ abundance and weaved his new product through society like a spiderweb, remaining clueless about this rock substance acting as a black widow cocooning its prey. As we now know, countless men and women have since succumbed to its cancerous side effects and buildings across the world have been abandoned or demolished because of asbestos based building materials.
Nature’s fanciful mood turned out to be a bad one and man is still paying a price for “his skill in radically transforming natural products“. Thankfully, 73 years later, we no longer worry about asbestos and have since turned our attention to wondering if cellphone use leads to brain cancer. Perhaps the people of year 2084 will have that answer.
My heart sank when I came across this photo of a man wearing the asbestos death suit. If only he knew…