History of Asbestos Laws
American asbestos civil litigation began in the 1960s when the first information publicly surfaced about how dangerous asbestos was to human health.
This was well-known within asbestos industry boardrooms. However, many unscrupulous executives conspired to hide the fact of the dangers of their products.
Ultimately, this deadly secret backfired on hundreds of asbestos companies who now find themselves targets of litigation.
Humans have used asbestos for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians and Romans applied asbestos for fireproofing and strengthening products as well as insulating and lightening them. Even then, the health hazards were known.
Did You Know?
Asbestos exposure was called the disease of slaves because of lung damage to miners.
By the 1930s, medical professionals linked asbestos exposure with lung cancer and other diseases. The medical community warned legislators of the looming health disaster, but their information was ignored.
Asbestos was too valuable to the American economy to enact controls, especially with World War II requiring an enormous amount of asbestos to protect military machines.
Evolution of Asbestos Litigation
The first legal asbestos act in America came in 1970 when the U.S. federal government formed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA listed asbestos as one of America’s most toxic substances and passed the Clean Air Act of 1970, which identified asbestos as an air pollutant.
Asbestos officially became a toxin. By this time, it was the most common dangerous product in existence.
Asbestos civil litigation started in the 1970s when the evidence overwhelmingly supported how deadly asbestos exposure was. This started a series of motions forming the two distinct legal areas dealing with asbestos exposure control and compensation.
Regulatory laws formed to control asbestos use while litigation law dictated how the courts and civilian agencies would process compensation claims.
The two venues paralleled and supported each, and they’re still evolving today.