Asbestos has heat resistant qualities that have made it a perfect candidate for construction applications. In past years, firefoil board was made with asbestos and used to create an environment that could contain a fire, if one occurred, to a single area of a building, preventing its spread to other floors or nearby offices. While the intent of the architects who specified the use of the firefoil board was to keep the occupants of the building safe, the material, however, put the health of others at serious risk.
Medical research and evidence of asbestos-related illness was first published in the early 1900s, cautioning that those who work with asbestos should be taught about the hazards and how to take precautions to reduce their risk. Unfortunately, without labor laws specifying disclosure as a work-place safety requirement, companies rarely complied with those recommendations.
By the mid-1930s, the courts began seeing lawsuits for asbestos exposure in the workplace. It was obvious that workers were not being protected, but asbestos-based products were in high demand and producers turned a deaf ear to the repeated reports of the dangers of inhaling asbestos dust – even when those warnings came from their own scientists.
Indeed, Philip Carey Manufacturing company, the producer of firefoil board, dismissed their own doctor, hired to investigate health-related asbestos issues, when he recommended that workers and customers should be warned of the hazards of working with their products. They steadfastly refused to issue cautionary information.
This lack of action, however management may have rationalized it, did not prove to serve the companies well. As later research disclosed, a vast majority of production and installation workers would succumb to asbestosis. The medical community also connected asbestos to mesothelioma and other incidences of lung cancer. The ensuing settlements for asbestos-related damages put many of those manufacturers into bankruptcy.
Asbestos-based firefoil board that still exists in older buildings poses almost no risk to occupants, but those who work with it during remodeling or demolition need to take precautionsq to avoid exposure to any asbestos dust. Anyone who believes he/she has been exposed to asbestos dust should be medically monitored and receive counseling to learn what steps can be taken to reduce the risk of contracting an asbestos-related illness.
Individuals who have worked with asbestos products such as firefoil board in manufacturing or installation and subsequently been diagnosed with an asbestos- related illness should immediately seek legal counsel. An attorney experienced with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or other lung cancers, will be able to advise clients of what actions can be taken to protect their future interests.