Despite everything we know about the dangers of asbestos, companies worldwide still use the carcinogenic mineral in their products. Some of these companies may even have ties closer to home than most would expect.
An analytic company recently released a report on the asbestos industry. It looks at some of the major players and is a reminder that they are still willing to use asbestos. The study pits the interests of corporations against what we know about product and consumer safety.
You need to know these companies to understand the asbestos market
According to the people at Market Reports World, their report offers industry players a look at the major trends shaping the asbestos market. To understand the asbestos market, they suggest, you need to understand these companies. Some of the names may surprise you. They include:
- Lincoln Electric
- Johns Manville
- Owens Corning/Fireboard Corp.
- R. Grace and Co.
- Ford Motor Company
The report looks at the historical use of asbestos from 2015 to 2019 and the projected use through 2025. The inclusion of these companies means they have continued to play in the market. This links their products to a deadly carcinogen. Among other things, these products include:
- Welding products
- Axles, driveshafts and transmissions
- Insulation, roofing and construction materials
- Metal printing
- Pallet racks
- Materials handling
- Over-the-counter skin care
- Chemical catalysts and silica-based materials
How does an industry based on a carcinogen survive?
The asbestos industry’s continued survival raises some big questions. The report seems to speak to two of these. We might ask, “Why do companies continue to use a mineral known to cause cancer?” And we might also ask, “Why don’t these companies worry more about the costs of paying back their victims?”
Ford Motor Company serves as an excellent example for both questions. Back in 2016, The Center for Public Integrity exposed Ford’s answers to these questions. They reported that Ford:
- Had known about the risks of asbestos in its brakes as early as 1971
- Was exploring the use of alternate materials
- Decided not to move away from asbestos because that would result in an extra cost of $1.25 per car for front-end brakes
- Responded to asbestos litigation by hiring a scientist to write favorable studies
- Spent $40 million to flood the scientific journals with articles that disputed the seriousness of asbestos in brakes
The picture presented by this information is deeply upsetting. It shows a company that knows it can improve its product, but it doesn’t spend $40 million on improving its products. Instead, it spends that money on investigations and litigation related to the safety of its products.
Consumers can fight back
While the companies that use asbestos may not want to take responsibility for their unsafe products, courts can still hold them accountable. In fact, one mechanic recently won an $8.4 million verdict against Ford after its products gave him mesothelioma.
In the short run, these judgments can help the victims and their families. But they also do more. The threat of ongoing litigation has pushed many companies away from asbestos. These lawsuits and judgments help prevent the use of asbestos and make it a safer place.