Most people are under the false impression that the hazards of asbestos were unknown to industry until the mid-to-late 1970s, when knowledge of those hazards became prevalent through OSHA and the media. This is mainly due to industry’s concerted efforts to conceal its knowledge of these hazards from workers and from the public at large.
In 1899, the first article was published by the modern scientific community discussing the hazards of asbestos. By 1965, there were over seven hundred published articles discussing health hazards associated with exposure to asbestos, including mesothelioma. Manufacturers of asbestos products have a duty under our law to keep themselves informed about this published information. While most asbestos product manufacturers were actually aware of what was published in medical and scientific journals at the time of publication, they did nothing to warn the men and women who were working with or around their products.
As early as the 1920s, many asbestos product manufacturers began observing deaths among their own employees working with asbestos. These companies routinely took steps to hide the existence of a health hazard and even denied compensation to their injured workers. In the 1930s, several asbestos manufacturers paid to have the effects of asbestos exposure studied on mice. When the results revealed cancer in the mice, the companies conspired to keep the information secret, and had any mention of cancer removed from the final report before publication. This was not an isolated incident; our firm has cataloged internal documents from numerous asbestos companies, dating from the 1930s through the 1970s, discussing the hazards of asbestos, as well as their efforts to hide this knowledge from the public.
In some respects, the conspiracy is still alive today. Large, wealthy companies fund and support junk science. This junk science, claiming that certain asbestos fibers and products do not cause cancer, makes its way into magazines and newspapers. This is being done in an effort to sway jurors and deprive injured workers of “Asbestos Justice”.