Asbestos use became widespread during the industrial revolution. In the 17th century, asbestos was used for insulation in the United States. Asbestos was used heavily during World War II and was employed at one point to manufacture ammonium sulfate for rice production in Japan. By the mid-1990s, asbestos was being used as a fire retardant, for concrete, bricks, piping, and numerous other purposes.
Asbestos in chrysotile form is found in serpentine rocks and are commonly found all over the world. Chrysotile is the most frequently used form of asbestos, accounting for over 90 percent of the asbestos found in buildings here in the United States.
Court documents dated in the late 1970s showed that asbestos industry officials were aware of the dangers as early as the 1930s and continued to conceal its dangerous effects on consumers' health. The use of asbestos declined by 1989 and was banned entirely in 2004, citing health hazards. People diagnosed with mesothelioma are seeking financial compensation for manufacturers' intentional omission of the dangers of asbestos.