"Why Asbestos?": Presented by Swetonic of the Asbestos Information Association

Despite the emergence of evidence linking asbestos and lung cancer in the mid-1950s, asbestos remained in consumer products well into the 1970s. The document below highlights how Executive Secretary of the Asbestos Information Association Matthew M. Swetonic responded to mounting regulations on the asbestos industry.

In 1973, Swetonic presented to the Asbestos Textile Institute on “why asbestos” was “singled out as the prime target for so many assaults by government, labor, the press, certain segments of the medical profession, and by various environmental and consumer activist groups.”


As a representative of the industry trade group representing asbestos companies in North America, Swetonic asked the audience “Why us? Are the products we produce truly going to kill millions of Americans, as some experts have predicted? Or is there some sort of nefarious conspiracy afoot to destroy the asbestos industry?” At the time of his presentation, there was mounting concern over the health effects of exposure to asbestos which was often used in building insulation, car parts, adhesives, and other common household goods due to its resistance to fire.


In response to these questions, Swetonic explains that the answer is due to three interralated factors: "(1) absestos can cause disease, (2) a spokesman arose to champion the need for absestos control, and (3) a cornucopia of new government agencies were set up to control materials and products that can cause disease." Screen-Shot-2022-03-28-at-9.56.37-AM

Following the Clean Air Act of 1970 which classified asbestos as a hazardous pollutant, Swetonic of the Asbestos Information Association finally admited these factor after decades of fighting asbestos regulations. To check out the document, click the link here!