Asbestos Book Premieres at Site of Former Largest Asbestos Factory

The town of Rochdale in the United Kingdom, once the site of the world’s largest asbestos -producing factory, is now hosting the premiere of a book covering the history of asbestos . Excitement surrounded the launch of the book, and there were no empty chairs in the town hall in Rochdale where the authors spoke. John McCulloch and Geoffry Tweedle wrote Defending the Indefensible in order to shed light on the history and dangers of asbestos use. While its use has been banned in construction in many western nations, asbestos is still an inexpensive building material used in many developing countries. This book aims to highlight those poorer citizens at risk for future asbestos-related diseases, in addition to its historical discussion of the industry. Rochdale played a role in the book as the home to the Turner and Newall plant. Asbestos was a preferred building material from the 19th century through the final decades of the 20th. Its popularity contributed to a boom in the asbestos industry from which the Turner and Newall plant benefited.

The plant employed thousands of local workers who never suspected that they were working with hazardous materials. The effects of asbestos often do not appear for 10 to 25 years after exposure. By then, lung diseases such as asbestosis and the rare and deadly cancer mesothelioma have taken hold of the body. An organization, Save Spooden Valley, asked the authors to launch their book from Rochdale, hoping to highlight the dangers of asbestos in their area and in the developing world. The group is devoted to preventing the construction of over 600 homes and a daycare center on the site of the former Turner and Newall plant, fearing contamination of the factory site from asbestos which would render it unsafe for habitation, and they also want to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos used worldwide. The book, Defending the Indefensible, is currently available from Oxford Press.