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Asbestos health issues ca 1959: forming part of the history of the mining, production & use of asbestos world-wide, this article quotes from a popular text giving an indication of how asbestos-related health issues were viewed in the 1950's. The author recognizes asbestosis as a special type of silicosis. He expresses the viewpoint (for the 1950's era) of the level of risk from asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma was not on the horizon in the original author's (Rosato 1959) view.
This articles series about the manufacture & use of asbestos-containing products includes detailed information on the production methods, asbestos content, and the identity and use of asbestos-containing materials.
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The following text, quoted from Rosato (1959)  gives a view of how the material and industry were viewed at that time. A review of the entire ASBESTOS ORIGIN & NATURE article series includes many industry photographs showing workers handling raw asbestos ore or products, often with only eye protection.
Our page top image and the photo at left both illustrate unprotected handling of raw asbestos ore fibers.
[Click to enlarge any image]
With the development of the asbestos industry, contamination of the air by small asbestos fiber particles produced health problems.
Hygienic measures were not well advanced when the first mining operations were developed. Inasmuch as the dry processing method is used in mining and milling asbestos, small fiber particles are picked up by air currents and distributed throughout the manufacturing plants and in he neighborhoods.
The asbestos particles or dust winch developed could become harmful to the people who were constantly exposed to it.
Asbestosis is a special type of silicosis; however, it does not occur as often as silicosis. Approximately 10 years is required for a person to develop asbestosis if he is constantly exposed to the dust. However, since protective measures are provided by the manufacturing plants, it is extremely rare that a person develops asbestosis.
Chemical analysis can be made of dust in order to determine concentration of asbestos dust particles. Information is available on the maximum concentration that can exist without creating a health problem. Such varied safety measures are available as well ventilated areas, special masks, and water sprinkler systems. Proper filtration devices for collecting dust particles are available.
Current Asbestos Safety Regulations
Asbestos, Its Industrial Applications - Rosato: Text& Chapter Index 
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Web search 01/20/2011, original source: http://epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/verm_questions.html
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