What a lot of people don't even realize is how far back asbestos actually goes. In fact, it was first discovered as the "miracle mineral" during the early days of ancient Greece.
At this time, it was mined and used for a variety of purposes, and it was popular back then for some of the same reasons that it was popular in the WWII and Vietnam-era. However, one thing that even the ancient Romans couldn’t ignore was how the slaves who mined for asbestos all seemed to live much shorter lives. They’d die of illness much sooner.
The Industrial Revolution
When the Industrial Revolution came around, asbestos-based products became popular because of how they were regarded as one of the best insulators. For example, they were fire resistant, which made them a popular choice on hot pipes where the insulation might otherwise catch fire. The mineral was also commonly used for building materials and fabrics. Except, before the United States ever began to mine it themselves, they got the mineral from Canada. In fact, Canada was their biggest exporter of this mineral.
The Restrictions That Came Too Late
Unfortunately for the mining industry, by the time it was discovered that asbestos-based products were dangerous, many miners had already developed cancer as a result of their work in these mines. The restrictions that could have saved their lives didn’t come in time. Some of the common places that you might find these types of mines within the United States include Minnesota, Washington, California, Georgia and Oregon. Around 60 of these mines were opened on the East Coast. In 1993, the last operation was closed in Vermont, which was a chrysotile quarry. The last one out of California closed in 2002.
What You Need to Know About Vermiculite Mining
Vermiculite is a type of mineral that you could find in many different places around the world. While Vermiculite could have different minerals in it, one of the most common that you could find was asbestos-based fibers. When one of these mines in Libby, Montana, collapsed, however, hundreds of the miners were killed here, and thousands of the local population felt sickened by it because of a cloud of dust that had formed.
Like with many of the other people across different industries, they were diagnosed with cancer or lung problems many years later. This is probably part of the reason that a lot of people didn’t originally believe it to be a dangerous substance. Another one of the dangers that went beyond the miners was how anyone living within the immediate area would have asbestos-based fibers floating near them. In fact, it could reach up to 75 feet away to make the local population feel ill and possibly further in higher quantities.
Another danger was how because this was a light particle, it would often float onto a miner’s clothes. He’d go home for the day only to bring this toxic substance back home to his entire family. It was a dangerous situation for everyone.
What are the Symptoms?
Unfortunately, one of the big problems with asbestos-based particles is how they can’t be easily coughed up. Many of them are long and pointy, and they will get embedded into the tissue of the lungs. Many of the people who live near these mines will often not display any symptoms until decades later.
Some of the symptoms, however, include:
Coughing up blood
Difficulty with swallowing
Buildup of fluid within the lungs
Believe it or not, coal miners are also exposed to some of the dangers of asbestos-based fibers because it can sometimes be found in coal mines. It’s present in the air whenever the coal gets extracted. While not all coal mines come laced with asbestos-based fibers, an estimated 15 percent of them have been.
Some of the additional things that can put a miner at risk include shuttle cars, brake lining, motor controls, winches, hoist machines, transit panels and welding blankets. Even the people who live near a coal mine could be exposed to asbestos-based fibers because it will often float through the air to create a problem. Before it was widely known that this mineral was dangerous, most miners never took the precautions to protect themselves.