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‘A detailed silent film account of the production and manufacture of this most useful material. Operations are carried on at the Johns-Manville Co. plant. “Magic fibers – yesterday a curiosity, today a necessity – developed by the skill and resources of a great organization.”‘ Silent.
Public domain film from the Library of Congress Prelinger Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied.
Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals, which all have in common their eponymous asbestiform habit: long (roughly 1:20 aspect ratio), thin fibrous crystals, with each visible fiber composed of millions of microscopic “fibrils” that can be released by abrasion and other processes. They are commonly known by their colors, as blue asbestos, brown asbestos, white asbestos, and green asbestos.
Asbestos mining existed more than 4,000 years ago, but large-scale mining began at the end of the 19th century, when manufacturers and builders began using asbestos for its desirable physical properties: sound absorption, average tensile strength, resistance to fire, heat, electricity, and affordability. It was used in such applications as electrical insulation for hotplate wiring and in building insulation. When asbestos is used for its resistance to fire or heat, the fibers are often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats. These desirable properties made asbestos very widely used. Asbestos use continued to grow through most of the 20th century until public knowledge (acting through courts and legislatures) of the health hazards of asbestos dust outlawed asbestos in mainstream construction and fireproofing in most countries.
Prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious and fatal illnesses including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis (a type of pneumoconiosis). Illness from asbestos exposure can be found in records dating back to Roman times. Concern in modern times began in the 20th Century and escalated during the 1920s and 1930s. By the 1980s and 1990s asbestos trade and use was heavily restricted, phased out, or banned outright in an increasing number of countries.
The severity of asbestos-related diseases, the material’s extremely widespread use in many areas of life, its continuing long-term use after harmful health effects were known or suspected, and the slow emergence of symptoms decades after exposure ceased made asbestos litigation the longest, most expensive mass tort in U.S. history and a much lesser legal issue in most other countries involved. Asbestos-related liability also remains an ongoing concern for many manufacturers, insurers, and reinsurers…
Johns Manville is an American corporation based in Denver, Colorado that manufactures insulation, roofing materials, and engineered products. For much of the 20th century, the then-titled Johns-Manville Corporation was the global leader in the manufacture of asbestos-containing products, including pipe insulation, asbestos shingles, asbestos roofing materials and asbestos cement pipe.
Johns Manville stock was included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average from January 29, 1930 to August 27, 1982 when it was replaced by American Express. In 1981, Johns-Manville Corporation was renamed simply “Manville”. In 1982, facing unprecedented liability for asbestos injury claims, Johns Manville voluntarily filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code…