Previously published in Examiner
Part 2 of the mesothelioma series
The effects of breathing in asbestos in Montreal and all over the world
Asbestos was widely used in insulation because of its heat resistant properties. It became very popular in a number of industries. Everyone is exposed to asbestos. It is found in our environment, in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and in natural deposits. However it takes many years of exposure in large amounts for it to be a major health concern. That is why workers in the asbestos or asbestos related industries are prime candidates for the cancer.
Where asbestos has been used
Asbestos has been used in material since ancient times but, only became extremely popularized by the Industrial revolution; after which asbestos mining was endorsed by industrialized country governments.
Thetford Mines, in Quebec was a major asbestos mining site cultivated to meet the demand for heat resistant products such as: kilns, boilers, steam pipes, industrial ovens and so on. Many Quebers, including Montrealers has worked in these mines.
Shipbuilding World War II
The heyday for asbestos product manufacturing occurred during the Second World War in the United States when there was a need to produce warships.
Hence the military officers and personnel, especially the Navy, were most at risk for asbestos exposure. Naval personal on submarines, and even the coast guard personal during that period of time have also been exposed to asbestos and asbestos related products.
However, the list does not end there, civilians in the mining industry, ship builders, longshoremen, dockworkers, or any one handling asbestos related products were also at risk. This included engineers on ships responsible for the maintenance and repairs for boilers and pipes and the ships hydraulic systems. In Montreal, Canada, the USA and Great Britain.
According to Safety Executive (HSE) of Great Britain, though it uncommon for women to contract mesothelioma, the highest statistics reported of women (5%) with this deadly cancer, resulted from working in the English factories, producing gas masks during World War Two.
Other industries where workers were at risk are, manufacturers, painters, plastic plant workers, automobile mechanics, brake and clutch men, building industry, firemen city dump workers, and so on.
Most industrialized countries have restricted the use of asbestos and asbestos related products since the 1970’s, when the first cases of Mesothelioma reported, shocked the world.