There are many natural resources that provide a great deal of benefit to humankind, but they should always be tested to make sure they are safe before they are used around people. One prime example of a naturally occurring material that was utilized for years before it was recognized as a health hazard was asbestos. The mineral was discovered in large deposits in the United States right around the start of the Industrial Revolution.
Because it was almost immediately recognized as a strong, durable substance that could hold up under intense heat and even help to restrict the spread of a fire, asbestos was soon being used as a primary ingredient for insulation, construction materials and even protective clothing. The fact that asbestos can be molded into most any shape, and that it is inexpensive to mine caused it to also be included in hundreds of other products that were created and distributed by manufacturers all across America. What was not understood at that time is that this advantageous mineral is also poisonous.
Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel was a site that utilized various items which contained asbestos. Workers spent time around contaminated insulating products and other commodities that were full of the hazardous mineral. As they worked, the employees of this Wheeling, West Virginia site unknowingly inhaled microscopic bits of asbestos dust that broke off from these goods and got into the air. Nobody realized they were breathing in anything unusual, because the dust particles are far too small to be seen or felt, and they have no flavor.
After ingesting asbestos dust, people may be subjected to several health problems. The poison from the material gets into their respiratory system and causes damage that promotes chronic breathing disorders and other ailments. Over time, the invading mineral can result in various forms of lung cancer, like the notorious mesothelioma. Many people have died from these illnesses over the years after being subjected to asbestos while on the job. Most of the conditions, like mesothelioma cancer, which are caused by inhaling asbestos dust are difficult to treat, and they have no cure.
Victims who were exposed may not develop signs of asbestos cancer for years or even decades. If you or someone you know worked at Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, you may have been exposed to this potentially deadly mineral and should notify your doctor about it immediately.