Since the 1920s, more and more industries in America, such as construction, power generating, electrical, and oil refining, began using asbestos as a raw material. This was because the mineral had numerous convenient properties, including resistance to extreme temperatures, durability, and inability to conduct electricity, and because it was quite cheap to purchase.
However, the companies using asbestos, such as Johns Manville and Raybestos, had been aware since the very beginning that exposure to asbestos fibers by inhalation or ingestion can result in terrible diseases such as lung cancer. Yet, they did not provide their workers with any protective equipment and went above and beyond to keep this information hidden from everyone.
The following are only some of the most outrageous excerpts that came to light after the 1980s when asbestos manufacturers could no longer hide the carcinogenic nature of asbestos:
- In 1949, Dr. Kenneth Smith informed Lewis H. Brown, John Manville's president, that the X-rays of seven asbestos mill workers showed visible signs of asbestosis. Nevertheless, the latter advised Brown not to let the employees know about their condition, stating that "As long as the man is not disabled, it is felt that he should not be told of his condition so that he can live and work in peace, and the company can benefit from his many years of experience." One of the best examples of utmost indifference towards the health of employees can be found in a 1966 letter to Johns Manville from Ernie Martin, the director of purchases of Bendix Corporation. Referring to the worsening asbestos epidemic in the country, he offered what he thought to be the perfect solution, writing, "My answer to the problem is: if you have enjoyed a good life while working with asbestos products why not die from it. There's got to be some cause."