The earliest evidence of knowledge in the United States of the hazards of asbestos dust is from a speech given in October 1900 at a convention of the International Association of Factory Inspectors of America held in Indianapolis, Indiana. In a speech entitled, The Dangerous Trades, Mr. W.E. Walling of Chicago, quoted at length from Great Britain’s Annual Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops for the years 1898 and 1899. Excerpts from Mr. Walling’s speech:
“Dust- today we are apt to look at the breathing in of dust as our fathers did at the breathing in of germs. It seems an insignificant and ridiculous matter, but this is the reverse of the truth. One of the women inspectors of England says of the evil effects of dust: ‘In the majority of cases the evil is very insidious and the general symptoms produced by dust on the various respiratory organs are to the lay mind so similar to those produced by other causes that it is not always easy to trace the connection.’”
Further quoting from a British Annual Report on Factories and Workshops, Mr. Walling said:
“Such instances can seldom be fully traced except with infinite labor and patience. The worker falls into ill-health, and sinks away out of sight in no sudden or sensational manner so that attention is seldom attracted to the ultimate source of the trouble.
“The evil effects of asbestos dust have also attracted my attention, a microscopic examination of this mineral dust which was made by H.M. Medical Inspector clearly revealed the sharp, glass-like, jagged nature of the particles, and where they are allowed to rise and to remain suspended in the air of a room, in any quantity, the effects have been found to be injurious, as might have been expected.”
Just pages away from a 1901 publication of the speech is a full page advertisement by The Fidelity & Casualty Company of New York, a half page advertisement for the Travelers Insurance Company and a half page advertisement for the New Amsterdam Casualty Company.
The New Amsterdam Casualty Company merged in the mid-1960s with the Security Insurance Company. In 2007, the Security Insurance Company merged with Arrowood Indemnity Company.