Asbestos in Plastics
Synthetic plastic was invented more than a century ago and turned manufacturing upside down. Initially asbestos was incorporated in plastics, which exposed tradesmen and factory workers to this carcinogenic substance. Up until the late 1970s, the connection between this harmful substance and mesothelioma or other cancers was unclear.
Why Did They Use This Substance
There are typically many options of materials to use in creating plastics, but manufacturers preferred asbestos-based products because these have a variety of benefits. Some of the benefits included resistance to heat, moisture, electricity and acid. In addition, this substance was more cost effective as compared to some of the others. For this reason, manufacturers often used asbestos.
Some of the products where you could find asbestos used before it was linked to cancers included:
- Automobile parts
- Consumer goods
- Electrical components
- Aircraft and weapon systems
Many times,these plastics would take a specific form. For example, they might be used in vinyl, or they could be used for flooring and tiles depending on the situation. Plastic cement became popular because of how it helped to reinforce cement products. Some of the most common industries where you might find this used included:
Dozens of companies made these products and some of them went out of business as a result of the lawsuits that later followed. For example, the W.R. Grace Company out of Libby, Montana, filed for a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy after the flood of lawsuits that followed this company. The company set up a trust that will pay out $4 billion in damages. Some of the other companies that made these types of plastics include:
- Flintkote Company
- Armstrong World Industries
- Mobile Oil Corporation
- Greene, Tweed & Company
Endangering the Lives of Workers
Factory workers face a variety of hazards including amputation, burns, broken bones and musculoskeletal disorders. Additionally, they are also at a higher risk for illnesses that occur because of exposure to asbestos-related products. When working in an environment with a high concentration of this dust, you may be at increased risk of health consequences over the long term.