Glancing Back: The Home Front

February 22, 2001
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1944 Make FOR War, NOT FOR PEACE

You may remember hearing that during World War II, automobile manufacturers produced tanks and other vehicles for the war effort. Did you know that hvacr manufacturers also produced products to help the Allies win the war?

Manufacturers of all sorts worked on building war materials under the direction of the War Production Board (WPB). The amount of civilian products each company could make was limited by the WPB.

Harold L. Schaefer, president of Schaefer, Inc., a manufacturer of commercial refrigeration equipment and ice cream cabinets, was fined $15,000 in Minneapolis, MN, for violating WPB quotas in the manufacturing of nonmilitary frosted food cabinets and low-temperature mechanical refrigerators, according to the Feb. 28, 1944 News.

Schaefer confessed to the violation, but said that he and the vice president of the company had been away from the factory in an attempt to get a government contract. While they were gone, the plant was prohibited from producing and selling refrigeration items, but the banned items were produced anyway.

1984 Clear and Present Danger

Exposure to asbestos, even if it’s a brief exposure, can put your health at risk, warned Michael Polk, a lawyer and keynote speaker at the Minnesota Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors’ annual convention. This exposure can come in various ways, including working at a remodeling project where removal of asbestos materials is required, or living in a house or going to school that has asbestos in it. Science has documented that heavy/long-term exposure to asbestos can lead to contracting asbestosis, for which, even now, medical science has no cure. Brief exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, a type of cancer.

Polk’s speech was covered by Irene Clepper for the Feb. 27, 1984 News. In his speech, Polk placed a great deal of blame on manufacturers. “They have had proof available since 1899 of this hazard,” he said, “and manufacturers are held to the responsibility of knowing the results of medical research.”

Polk did say however, “It is fair to say that asbestos is not the threat that it used to be; its use has been outlawed in Minnesota since 1973, but we must still look at the hazards of removing old asbestos applications when remodeling is being done.”

He advised the audience to comply with OSHA safety regulations. “The policing authorities are getting rather rigorous. Everyone who has ever been exposed should have an examination by a pulmonary specialist, and a chest X-ray. There is no cure, but there are medications to relieve the symptoms.”

Polk also cautioned that workers may have also exposed their families to asbestos by bringing home the particles on shoes and clothing.

Widespread removal of asbest-os began in the mid-1980s.

Publication date: 02/26/2001

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