Insurers knew of asbestos dangers but did nothing to protect workers

A report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune states that new documents show the insurance company tried to downplay the effects of asbestos. The documents are emerging in recent asbestos suits against insurers.

South African scholar Gerrit Schepers stumbled upon research indicating that asbestos was harmful in 1946. Research done on mice and mine workers revealed 85 percent of those exposed to asbestos dust later had lung cancer. Slides taken of the mice disappeared shortly after Schepers revealed his findings to a large asbestos maker.

Schepers did his doctoral thesis on this research, and after giving his oral presentation, was confronted by an NYU official who had retired from Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. He demanded Schepers withdraw his thesis.

According to the article, Schepers’ experience was one of many incidents over the years in which insurers had research indicating the dangers of asbestos, but did not act to protect workers.