A timeline of asbestos in America

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2020 | Asbestos |

Asbestos has long since been a part of our human history. However, it is only relatively recently that we learned of the severe health risks, which are now widely known. 

Since we believe that education is vital in helping you understand the dangers of asbestos exposure, let us focus on the history of its use in America. 

Early 1900s 

According to LiveScience, people had used asbestos for hundreds of years before it became a core element in American industries. By the early 1900s, manufacturers used asbestos liberally to insulate many building materials like pipes, walls, floors and other structural components. The asbestos industry venerated its beneficial properties to the world in the late 1930s, perhaps spurring its popularity even more. 

1950s to 1960s 

As World War II came to a close, and America entered the 1960s, more and more shipbuilders who had installed insulation during the war era became sick. The illness that caught researchers’ attention was mesothelioma. Doctors rapidly linked the drastic increase in this rare type of lung cancer was to the asbestos used in the ship insulation. 


At first, the government listened to the doctors when they predicted the widespread, dangerous complications of asbestos exposure in the early 1970s. One of the first actions taken by the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was to prohibit asbestos as an insulation component. 


As EPA efforts escalated and it attempted to remove the use of asbestos everywhere, the industry pushed back and blocked many of the proposed restrictions. The automotive, fire protection and construction industries continued to use asbestos in manufacturing. 


On June 1, 2018, the EPA further relaxed restrictions on asbestos use. Previously, regulations took into account many indirect factors surrounding the environmental spread of asbestos. The new rule will only limit use in applications that directly harm the people who handle it during manufacturing. 

Many agencies, including the World Health Organization, openly acknowledge the risk of asbestos exposure and the link to many illnesses in addition to mesothelioma. For more information on how asbestos can affect your body, read our blog post on asbestosis.