Let’s explore the history of toxic substances in our environment from the time we knew that the toxic substances were harmful and lethal to our health.
Let us start with asbestos — the most litigated of the hazardous, toxic materials.
The Greeks, the earliest users of asbestos 3,000 years ago, considered the value of asbestos almost equal to the value of gold. Chrysotile, the most commonly used asbestos, comes from the Greek word of gold, chysos, and fiber, tilos.
The Greeks and the Romans recorded that slaves who worked with asbestos and in asbestos mines died early from lung sickness.
The industrial revolution brought on the expanded use of asbestos, because of its superior fire retardant ability and its tensile strength. Asbestos products were used to contain friction and heated parts of machinery, protecting that part of the machinery from wear and tear and protecting the worker from burns. The use of asbestos in these applications made sense from a manufacturing point of view, but not from a health point of view.
The vast increase of mining and processing asbestos during the industrial revolution was proven in the late 1800s to damage the lungs, causing death.
The use of asbestos in manufacturing continued for more than 100 years without regulation pertaining to the safety of the worker. Asbestos is still used today, in spite of the health effects.
Chromium has been used for over 2,000 years. Although asbestos relates to lung cancer, hexavalent chromium or chromium VI, is related to a mired amount of diseases, lung cancer only being one of them. As early as 1930, the effects of respiratory cancer in workers in the chrome industry were diagnosed. Eventually, a mired amount of other chromium related diseases that ranged from asthma, liver disease and skin cancer to cardiovascular disease, as well as many other lethal effects to the human organs were discovered from exposure to chromium.
Chromium cancer clusters can be isolated and identified to specific areas of our environment, such as former chromium manufacturing sites and dumping sites from those chromium manufacturing sites.
Lead has been used for over 6,000 years and the effects of lead poisoning have been known for over 2,500 years. All through history the effects of non-occupational lead poisoning have been documented.
In recent years publications on the devastating effects of lead paint has permanently impaired the learning ability of children.
The industries that used the aforementioned hazardous, toxins in their manufacturing operations have caused devastating effects on society and loved ones.
The business of environmental litigation has cut deeply into industries profits, causing many to go bankrupt.
Although litigation does not cure or bring back a loved one, it says loudly and clearly that companies must take advanced steps to protect the environment and loved ones, because there is no dollar amount that can buy a human life.