There are plenty of examples of advertisements from the past promoting how great asbestos was. The Johns-Manville Corporation was one of the earliest adopters of asbestos-containing building materials, specifically the asbestos roofing advertised in this piece from 1919.
Immediately following World War I, the United States was in a rapid state of development and asbestos was starting to become a popular building material. As the advertisement points out, “The mushroom-like growth of American communities has brought the fire peril very near to all of us. Houses are crowded one against another. Your house is at the mercy of a community fire unless its roof is built to resist the flaming spark.”
At the time, community fires were a real concern for Americans. Events like the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the Great Toronto Fire of 1904 had not completely faded into memory. As people began to move from the countryside into cities, they believed the risk of fire was bound to increase.
What we didn’t know in 1919 is that despite asbestos’ ability to deter fire damage, it also can cause life-threatening diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. In fact, the first diagnosis of asbestosis, which definitively linked asbestos exposure to a deadly disease, would not be made until 1924.
Asbestos was advertised as being a ‘miracle mineral’ in the early 1900s. Of course, we now know how terrible the substance can be. It destroys lives, families and companies. The Johns-Manville Corporation, which ran this asbestos ad in 1919, filed for bankruptcy in the early 1980s as asbestos lawsuits led to mounting debts. It was one of the largest companies ever to file for bankruptcy protection at the time. At present, Johns-Manville no longer uses asbestos.
However, other companies do still manufacture and use asbestos-containing products in the United States. Given all that we know about the material now, it is unbelievable that asbestos is still actively used in our country. Isn’t it time we changed that?
Join our fight. Ban asbestos now.