Defending the Indefensible: The Global Asbestos Industry and its Fight for Survival

Hardcover | October 1, 2008

byJock McCulloch, Geoff Tweedale

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Until the mid-1960s, asbestos had a reputation as a lifesaver. In 1960, it became known that even relatively trivial exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, a virulent and lethal cancer. Yet the bulk of the world's asbestos was mined after 1960. Asbestos usage in many countries continued unabated.This is the first global history of how the asbestos industry and its allies in government, insurance, and medicine defended the product throughout the 20th century. It explains how mining and manufacture could continue despite overwhelming medical evidence as to the risks. The argument advanced inthis book is that asbestos has proved so enduring because the industry was able to mount a successful defense strategy for the mineral - a strategy that still operates in some parts of the world. This defence involved the shaping of the public debate by censoring and sometimes corrupting scientificresearch, nurturing scientific uncertainty, and using allies in government, insurance, and medicine. The book also discusses the problems of asbestos in the environment, compensating victims, and the continued use of asbestos in the developing world. Its global focus shows how asbestos can be seen as a model for many industrial diseases - indeed for a whole range of hazards produced by industrialsocieties. The book is based on a wealth of documentary material gained from legal discovery, supplemented by oral evidence from the authors' visits and researches in the US, the UK, Canada, Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe, Australia, Swaziland, and South Africa.

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Until the mid-1960s, asbestos had a reputation as a lifesaver. In 1960, it became known that even relatively trivial exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, a virulent and lethal cancer. Yet the bulk of the world's asbestos was mined after 1960. Asbestos usage in many countries continued unabated.This is the first global history o...

Jock McCulloch and Geoffrey Tweedale are historians with long-term research interests in health, corporate history, and mining. They have published widely on the history of industrial hazards. They have written three books on the asbestos industry covering manufacture and mining in the UK, South Africa, and Australia.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.79 inPublished:October 1, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199534853

ISBN - 13:9780199534852

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Making the World Safe3. Building the Defences4. The Challenge of Mesothelioma and Irving J. Selikoff5. The Chrysotile Defence6. Hiding the Elephant of Compensation7. Don't Disturb the Dog: Asbestos in the Environment8. Pushing Asbestos in the Developing World9. Defending Asbestos: 21st Century PerspectivesSources and Acknowledgements