Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
van Horssen
Leeds Beckett University
Website URL
Environmental History, History of Medicine, History of Science, asbestos, plastic, contamination, Canada, United States
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I am an environmental historian who specializes in the history of environmental health and contamination. My first book, A Town Called Asbestos, examined the local history of the global asbestos industry through close analysis of the community of Asbestos, Canada, home to what was once the largest asbestos mine in the world. In August 2017, I was part of an all-female crew sailing around the UK testing coastal waters for plastic contamination. I also coordinated a “time travel” event at Edinburgh Fringe Festival as part of the expedition.

Recent Publications


A Town Called Asbestos: Environmental Contamination, Health, and Resilience in a Resource Community. (University of British Columbia Press, 2016)

Journal Articles

“Urban Nuisances, Eyesores, and a Sense of Home,” Urban History Review (Fall 2016).

“The Mine that Ate the Village: Land Expropriation and Community Involvement in the Community of Asbestos, Canada, 1914-1977,”Economic History Yearbook, (2016): 9–28.

“La croissance de la mine et le territoire en la ville d’Asbestos, Québec,”Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française, (Spring 2015): 325-352.

“‘À faire un peu de poussière:’ Environmental Health and the Asbestos Strike of 1949,” Labour/LeTravail, vol. 70 (Fall 2012): 101-132.

Book Chapters

“Locality and Contamination Along the Transnational Asbestos Commodity Chain,” in Histories of Technology, Environment and Modern Britain, Jon Agar and Jacob Ward eds., University College London Press, 2018.

“Identity and Controversy in Quebec’s Asbestos Trade, 1918-1983,” inMining North America, J.R. McNeill and G. Vrtis, eds., University of California Press, 2017.

Media Coverage;
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
North America
Expertise by Chronology
8, 9
Expertise by Topic
Medicine, Science