Rope Packing Made Out of Asbestos
Large pieces of industrial equipment that were to be transported would first be placed in protective packaging, and then tied down with thick ropes to help keep them in place and provide protection. This type of Rope Packing was usually made out of the mineral asbestos, which made a very strong rope that was also resistant to fire.
The ability of asbestos to hold up in excessive heat was well documented, and by the early 1900's, tons of it were being mined each year to create products that were to be used in high temperature environments. The mineral is also extraordinarily strong, so items such as Rope Packing will hold their goods in tightly and securely. Because it was found in large natural deposits, asbestos was also very economical to mine, which allowed the ropes to be produced at a very low cost. Shippers used them liberally to make sure their commodities were well protected while being transported to their final destination.
Anyone who has handled rope knows that the fibers that make it up can easily become dislocated or separated. Asbestos is also comprised of fibers, and they have a tendency to break free as well. So rope that was made with asbestos was extremely likely to have fibers and small particles break off every time it was used. People who handled Rope Packing didn't know it at the time, but when this happened, it would put them in great danger.
Asbestos is a Health Hazard
Studies that examined asbestos and the attributes it possessed eventually determined that it was a health hazard. The mineral contains potentially deadly amounts of toxins that can infiltrate the human respiratory system and lodge there permanently. Over time, this can lead to problems with normal breathing, scarring of the lung tissue, and a cancer called mesothelioma, which has no cure and therefore few survivors. Workers, some of them union workers, who untied the Rope Packing became subjected to this harmful material, and many got very ill because of it. Even worse, the lives of some who were infected by asbestos particles were taken as a result of their exposure.
The statistics on mesothelioma survival rates are not always favorable as indicated above. However, improved quality of life is attainable with some of the more advanced treatments that are now available at mesothelioma cancer clinics including photo-dynamic therapy, brachytherapy and mesothelioma immunotherapy. More conventional treatments including mesothelioma extrapleural pneumonectomy are also offered along with drug therapy with Alimta® and Onconase.
Logic would dictate that as soon as the discovery of these dangers was made, manufacturers would stop using the responsible material, but regrettably many did not. They had no intention of losing their inexpensive and highly effective mineral, and their decision put even more people at risk. Mesothelioma in women also became more prominent as laborers brought asbestos dust home on their clothes that their wives had to launder. This is called secondary asbestos exposure.
People started to get sick, and they demanded answers. Once they understood that the products, such as Rope Packing, were to blame, they went after the manufacturers in droves. Lawsuits were filed by the thousands, forcing many of the companies to seek bankruptcy protection. They were generally allowed to restructure their business and escape debt after creating a trust fund to pay off those who were victimized.
Rope Packing Products Containing Asbestos
The following partial list of rope packing products were known to contain asbestos:
|Product Name||Start Year||End Year|
|John Crane Rope Packing|
|Johns Manville Rope Packing|
|Turner & Newall K & M Rope Packing|
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