Asbestos, a furry silicate mineral was woven into textiles and incorporated into building materials so that they would not burn.
It found its way into cement, pipes, tiles and shingles.
During World War One, Kaiser Wilhelm, the German monarch, sheltered in a portable asbestos hut.
During World War Two, the United States armed forces used the stuff to insulate ships, tanks and aircraft and to make fireproof uniforms.
The Canadian Navy launched a corvette in 1943 called the HCMS Asbestos.
Jessica van Horssen, the author of A Town Called Asbestos, says “It [would be] a fantastic material if it didn’t kill people.”
The Economist. (2019) Welcome to Toxic Town. The Economist. 14 December 2019, pp.28.
van Horssen, J. (2016) A Town Called Asbestos. Reprint Edition. Vancouver, University of British Columbia Press.