Industry News

How Did Asbestos Become Popular?

Memes —

We Now Know It’s A Killer, But Asbestos Was Once Considered Cool

Here at Asbestos Abatement, Inc., we’re really into educating the public about all things related to asbestos – as you surely know, since you’re undoubtedly a frequent reader (and likely a rabid fan) of this space.

So we love to answer the many questions we get from time to time.

One of the most frequently-asked questions is some form of this: “How can your staff at Asbestos Abatement, Inc. be so knowledgeable, and experienced, and courteous, AND distractingly attractive, yet unassuming, all at the same time?”

That’s a tough question for one to answer, especially when one is entirely choked up with a combination of gratitude, humility, and love for humanity.  But another big question we get, which is much easier to answer, is this:

How did asbestos get to be popular in the first place?

“I mean, you’ve educated us thoroughly on the dangers of asbestos,” readers often say.  “We know (thanks to you) that asbestos is basically a rock, and that it’s not dangerous in its solid state, but that it easily breaks into microscopic airborne shards which, over time, can embed themselves in your lungs and cause deadly mesothelioma lung cancer for which there is no cure.”

Too true.

“We also know (again, thanks to you) that asbestos was illegal in the U.S. for a hot minute, many years ago, and that while it’s still illegal to mine it or manufacture stuff with it in America, it’s perfectly legal to import the ugly stuff as a component of a wide range or products, from face makeup to floor tiles.”

Right again.

“And – can’t thank you enough for this important information! – we know that tons and tons of asbestos-laden products are imported into the U.S. every year, and that we’re likely surrounded by it in the very materials used to build our house, and that even something as simple as a small house fire, a broken pipe, or a bad DIY project can disturb the asbestos and release the deadly airborne shards.”

Sorry to say it, but that’s 100% correct.

“But why is this even a thing?” you, as do many readers, may ask.  “How did we start down this dangerous asbestos-paved road?”

Well, here’s the short answer: Cro-Magnon Man (the son of Sylvia Cro and Fred Magnon, some reports suggest) invented fire.  Later, Sir Walter Raleigh invented the cigarette.  Some time after that, the practice of smoking cigarettes in bed developed.  Then, after Johnny Carson invented the television, the habit of falling asleep in bed while smoking and watching said television sparked (sparked!) a frightening trend by which many people died in tragic house fires.

So, thanks to its fire-resistant properties (after all, it’s a rock), asbestos became popular as a protectant from this bed-fire trend.  Soon, asbestos was contained in everything, including electric blankets!

(Asbestos-containing blankets were perfectly safe, of course, as long as they were kept in air-tight packaging and never moved.  But as you can imagine, using them as bedding was sure to cause the release of airborne asbestos, every time you rolled over to get another cigarette.)

House fires declined, as far as you know, and there was much rejoicing in the land.  After all, asbestos was seen as a “friend” of humanity, way back in the day.  Even as a savior.  There was even a comic book “hero” whose super power was being made of asbestos!

(Don’t be shocked: Coca-Cola originally contained cocaine.  However, the “Cocaine Man” comics never really took off.)

Eventually, though, science discovered the dangers of asbestos, not long before Hollywood discovered the career-ending dangers of cocaine.  So the government took only a few decades to jump on these problems, and make both dangerous substances illegal.

Nowadays, thanks to natural selection, only stupid people smoke in bed, so we no longer need to freak out about the fires that used to be caused by this habit, and we don’t need asbestos in our blankets.

But because it’s cheap, people will continue making things with asbestos.  And since certain lobbyists have not yet succumbed to natural selection, it’s still legal to import asbestos-laden products into the U.S., even though the ugly stuff is no longer “popular” in a cultural sense.

Maybe one day the problem will be solved completely.  Some day, maybe a campaign will urge certain lobbyists and certain Hollywood actors to take up smoking in bed.


All joking aside, asbestos is ugly and dangerous, and even though it was once considered a popular solution to the danger posed by fire, we now know that there are much better ways to keep ourselves safe – from both fire and asbestos poisoning.  Your best bet is to have your place professionally tested, and if there’s a problem, it’ll cost less than you think to get it solved.  Give us a call!  And keep those questions (and compliments) coming