It is a natural mineral that has been used for many different purposes over the years. It was however definitely at the height of it’s popularity during the Industrial Age when it was pretty much found in everything and it was everywhere.
Here are 10 interesting facts that might just surprise you and that you’ll want to share with all your friends at your next dinner party:
1) Archaeologists uncovered fibers in debris dating back to the Stone Age, some 750,000 years ago. It is believed that as early as 4000 BC, asbestos’ long hair-like fibers were used for wicks in lamps and candles.
2) Around 755 AD, King Charlemagne of France ordered a tablecloth made of asbestos to prevent it from burning during the accidental fires that frequently occurred during feasts and celebrations.
3) In 1095, the French, German and Italian knights who fought in the First Crusade used a catapult, called a trebuchet, to fling flaming bags of pitch and tar wrapped in asbestos over city walls during their sieges.
4) In 1280, Marco Polo wrote about clothing made by the Mongolians from a « fabric which would not burn. » Polo visited an asbestos mine in China to disproved the myth that asbestos came from the hair of a wooly lizard.
5) A purse made of fireproof asbestos, now part of London’s Natural History Museum collection, was brought to England by Benjamin Franklin during his first visit there as a young man in 1725.
6) U.S. consumption of asbestos peaked in 1973 at 804,000 tons. Peak world demand was realized around 1977. Some 25 countries were producing almost 4.8 million metric tons per year, and 85 countries were producing thousands products.
7) Paper made from asbestos was discovered in Italy in the early 1700s. By the 1800s, the Italian government was utilizing asbestos fibers in its bank notes.
8) Asbestos occurs naturally in large deposits on every continent in the world.
9) Roman historian, naturalist and philosopher, Pliny the Elder, wrote of the « disease of slaves, » and actually described the use of a thin membrane from the bladder of a goat or lamb used by the slave miners as an early respirator in an attempt to protect them from inhaling the harmful fibers as they labored.
10) In 1876, chrysotile (white asbestos) was discovered in the Thetford Township, in southeastern Quebec. Shortly afterward, Canadians established the world’s first commercial asbestos mines.
Axxonlab – Founded in Mont Royal, Quebec in 2011, is an environmental testing laboratory for regulated substances that specializes in the characterization and quantification of asbestos and mold in the air and in bulk samples.