We hear a lot about the dangers of asbestos in our homes and asbestos abatement is a billion dollar industry. While we focus mainly on the negative aspects of asbestos, it’s still a fascinating material. Here are ten interesting facts about asbestos that you might not have known about.
- The word asbestos is derived from the Greek word for unquenchable or inextinguishable.
- The first evidence of asbestos mining dates from 4500 years ago. People in Finland added asbestos fibres to the clay they used to make pots.
- One Persian king regaled guests by throwing asbestos towels into a fire to clean them.
- Asbestos is the only mineral that can be woven into cloth. King Charlemagne of France is said to have had a tablecloth woven from asbestos. He died of a lung ailment in 814 A.D.
- Beginning in the 1930’s, asbestos was an important component in shipbuilding. During WWII, up to a billion tons of asbestos went into ships built in American shipyards every year.
- Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral that’s extracted from under the ground. Major producers were South Africa, Canada, and Russia.
- The first commercial asbestos mine opened in Quebec in 1874.
- In ancient times, rubbing asbestos was thought to cure certain skin conditions.
- It can take up to 50 years after exposure to asbestos for medical conditions such as cancer to develop.
- At the end of the 13th century, Marco Polo visited China. While there he saw asbestos, and concluded that it was a stone, and not the hair of a woolly lizard as was previously thought.
Asbestos is an interesting mineral but sadly, prolonged exposure to it can be deadly. If you live in a home that was built before 1990, there’s a strong possibility that it contains asbestos. Before you do any kind of renovation, it’s a good idea to have it inspected to find out if it contains asbestos in popcorn ceilings, flooring, or insulation.