15th March 1924. The Quiet Killer.

In 1999 the use of asbestos was banned in the United Kingdom after the mineral was found to be the biggest, single cause of work-related deaths. 

The cost of insurance and ridding all buildings of asbestos now, and in the future, will cost billions: 75% of schools, for example, still contain asbestos, with teachers dying from inhalation of the microscopic fibres.

Like a time-bomb in its effect, victims die 50 or 60 years later, without necessarily knowing they have the diseases which will kill them, from exposure to asbestos, when they were younger.

One of the early victims, whilst only in her thirties, was a Nellie Kershaw who died Today in 1924.

She had worked in an asbestos factory since she was 13, and important as being the first case to be diagnosed with the disease, according to W.E. Cooke  the pathologist at Wigan Infirmary.(1)

Cooke’s findings were delivered in a lecture reported in 1924 by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) entitled, ‘fibrosis of the lungs due to the inhalation of asbestos dust’.

One of the market leaders, in Britain, in production was Turner and Newall, when asbestos was the wonder material, used in construction, appliances. Also significantly it was widely used in the car industry, where its thermal stability and high temperature insulation along with low friction, saw it use in break linings.

In construction, it was mixed as a cement, with white asbestos and lime for artex ceilings and wall lining.

One of the insulation materials using asbestos was ‘monkey muck’ which was a mixture of ‘toccio dirt’ and gypsum which was troweled-on, in a wet mixture to insulate piping. The author remembers a company in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, Smith’s Insulations, using the material, the Company being known as ‘Monkey Muck’ Smith’s.

It is no surprise then, that all involved in construction since the war, are now at risk from asbestosis and mesothelioma and related lung problems such as fibrosis, where the lungs have made attempts to rid themselves of airborne pollutants.

Fibrous Tremolite, one of the 6 recognizable types of asbestos.

Fibrous Tremolite, one of the 6 recognizable types of asbestos.

There are six minerals containing types of asbestos: chrysolite (white asbestos) of the serpentine group of minerals; amosite (brown asbestos), crocidolite (blue asbestos), anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite; the first three being the most used in industry.

(1) Cooke MD FRCP Ed DPH, explained that asbestos is found in other compounds and contains calcium, magnesium and silicates, and is 40% SiO2 silica.


In 2012 the World Health Organization (WHO) officially designated asbestos, plutonium and diesel fumes as carcinogenic.

In the 1990s  some of the ‘Names’ at Lloyds Insurers, lost fortunes as the result of large international claims, which included those from asbestosis sufferers.

Fluorine is the strongest, common oxidising agent and as F2, is so powerful, as an oxidizer, that it even causes asbestos to burst into flames.

Ref: wikipedia.org/asbestos. Pic. Ref.

Ref: Daily Mirror.co.uk/asbestos.

Ref:  BMJ 1924 July 26 2(3317) 140-2 147.

Ref:  Bells Asbestos Co.

Ref:  oracleasbestos.com.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

3 responses to “15th March 1924. The Quiet Killer.”

  1. Charles Franklin says :

    It should have been banned a long time ago. We should be to the point where inspection personnel are monitoring are verifying where it all is, and then figuring out the safest possible way of containing it and disposing of it.

  2. Dampier says :

    thx for your info! i like this post, many victims due to the impact of the dangers of asbestos , but the action of the government , it seems less serious response to all this , the public awareness of yourselves , it is still so small , I think we ought to all act quickly ! before the more the number of victims who will come.

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