Asbestos is a building material and was used in all parts of manufacturing. Many materials, such as fiberglass insulation, were developed to replace asbestos, but companies that used asbestos ignored the safer alternatives because of their cost. Asbestos is similar to tobacco in that it was a known carcinogen and corporate executives ignored the danger in order to fatten their wallets. Asbestos is much more dangerous than cigarette smoke and the victims were largely exploited workers who were unaware of the serious health risks they faced everyday. The first asbestos law suit was filed in 1929 and the first mesothelioma-related asbestos law suit was filed in the United States in 1966. Although this case was lost, another asbestos law suit was filed immediately for a co-worker of the first plaintiff and the plaintiff was awarded $80,000 for his victory.
In 1973, The Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of spray-on asbestos insulation as an air pollutant hazard but it wasn’t until 1979 that all uses of asbestos were abandoned and the materials were banned altogether. In 1978, an asbestos plant manager divulged that the policy in his company was not to discuss chest findings or other medical results suggesting a relationship between asbestos and mesothelioma. Because of this, a number of documents emerged clearly demonstrating fraud and conspiracy showing that as early as the 1930s, companies had made direct efforts to hide the dangers of asbestos from their workers.
Even as late as 1999, courts were finding that companies has disregarded the effects their use of asbestos were having on their workers and kept its’ use a secret until discovered by the federal courts. Most of the asbestos companies have since gone bankrupt and the federal government has set aside funds for any victims and their families who have yet to file an asbestos law suit claim monetary compensation for their exposure to asbestos.