In the mid 1930s, the first scientific connection was made between lung cancer and asbestos. At roughly the same time, doctors and medical researchers were furthering their knowledge of a destructive cancer of the lining of the lungs called mesothelioma. Mesothelioma was determined to be caused specifically by asbestos exposure. In the years leading up to the 1930s, many medical journals began publishing very serious evidence about the alarming connection between asbestos exposure and lung cancer. During this time, there were hundreds of thousands of workers in the United States who were exposed daily to asbestos at the workplace. The most disturbing part of the asbestos and lung cancer link was the subsequent, decades-long asbestos exposure cover-up by companies to make sure those workers and employees were left uneducated about the dangers of asbestos.
Companies began to use their power and manipulation tactics to keep business thriving at the health expense of its dedicated workers. To keep the multibillion-dollar businesses flourishing, asbestos health risks needed to be covered-up and the truth of the dangers kept a secret. Companies knew that as long as workers and the public were uneducated about the serious risks, then business could continue to be profitable as usual.
The Asbestos Risks were Known by Corporations
Some of the leading companies within the industry were part of the massive asbestos exposure cover-up that began in the 1930s. Multiple companies knew about the danger of asbestos and ignored warnings from medical researchers and doctors about implementing safer workplaces. Asbestos regulations were beginning to be encouraged and supported by medical research even though many companies did their best to conceal the emerging medical findings. There were companies who knew about the respiratory diseases of their employees, yet kept X-ray scan results hidden from the workers.
The Asbestos Risks were Known by the Military
Veterans of the military, especially those who served in the U.S. Navy, currently are at high risk of developing asbestos-related health conditions or cancer. Asbestos was used significantly by all branches of the U.S. military from the 1930s to the mid-1970s. The most extreme and hazardous conditions occurred in U.S. Navy ships and shipyards.
The Asbestos Exposure Cover-Up Comes to an End
The asbestos exposure cover-up began to crumble and became exposed to the public beginning in 1962. Dr. Irving Selikoff of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and several of his colleagues definitively coupled occupational asbestos exposure to cancer and other related life-threatening conditions. Law firms began looking at evidence of companies within the asbestos industry that practiced disgraceful and problematic dealings with workers exposed to asbestos. The asbestos companies were being exposed to the public and workers without the power or influence to stop the information from getting out. Even after the dangerous truth of asbestos was uncovered, few companies changed their practices or placed newly recommended warning labels on any of their asbestos products. In 1971, the very first asbestos product lawsuit was filed. Since then, thousands of lawsuits have followed.