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Ancient Greeks First Recognized Harmful Effects of Asbestos

The Ancient Greek civilization recognized the practical properties asbestos offered. But the Greeks were also the first civilization to recognize asbestos' harmful biological effects. Greek geographer, Strabo, noted that many slaves who wore the asbestos suffered from some sickness in the lungs. But this correlation did not restrict its common use.

Asbestos was woven into the clothing worn by imported slaves. After realizing its flame-resistant properties, the Greeks coined the term "asbestos," meaning inextinguishable (Greek a-, "not"; sbestos, "extinguishable"), in recognition of this seemingly magical characteristic.

Strabo, a Greek geographer of the first century, identified what was believed to be the first asbestos quarry on the Greek island of Evvoia.

The Greeks used asbestos for the wicks of the eternal flames of the vestal virgins, as the funeral dress for the cremation of kings, and as napkins.

Courtesy of Ringsurf

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