Hiram Perry: Asbestos Baloney!!!

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Hiram Perry: Asbestos Baloney!!!

Science Matters! (So Does Truth And Common Sense)
by Hiram Perry
Asbestos Baloney!!!
Current rulings on asbestos ignore sound science and Court rulings. Over the years we've spent millions to comply with EPA asbestos rulings. To an extent these rulings say, "where asbestos is used in schools as insulation, as a fire retardant, or for sound-proofing, it must be removed". Just for public buildings and schools the cost for compliance has been enormous. Nationally it has run into hundreds of billions, certainly millions right here in Maine.Seldom do rulings define asbestos. There are six kinds, but only three, the blue, the white and the brown, have ever been commercially important. The blue - hardly ever used today, has caused lung cancer. It was imported from Africa and while it has never been generally used in the country, it was widely used in ship building during World War II. It is bad stuff and when it is combined with smoking, it became mighty dangerous - worst than simple exposure to blue asbestos alone. The white asbestos (chrysotile) comprises 95% or more of the asbestos used today in this country.And chrysotile is the asbestos used in our schools and other buildings. It is of no danger to anyone, any worker, any child in school. That is probably why on October 21, 1991, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, lifted the EPA ban on asbestos. But the EPA and our own DEP in Augusta has ignored this ruling. I am totally amazed at this arrogance which continues to exist.What goes on here? To finance any building where there is a question about the condition of asbestos in the walls, around pipes, etc., removal may be required. There is a ruling, out of Washington, that requires the removal of asbestos in schools - sometimes, it seems, whether or not the asbestos is falling, crumbling or otherwise bad shape. As EPA head, William Reilly has said a decade ago, "the mere presence of asbestos in a building poses no risk". However, as they so often do, the EPA ignores sound science and yes, even Court rulings like the one by the 5th Circuit Court mentioned above.Again and again the white (chrysotile) asbestos has been proven not dangerous. In Ontario, where so much of it is mined, research has shown miners with a lifetime of exposure to white asbestos fibers have a normal life expectancy. In fact, a report by the Royal Commission on Matters of Health and Safety in Ontario states, "Even a building whose air has a fiber level up to ten times greater than that found in typical outdoor air would create a risk of fatality that was less than one-fifth of the risk of having a fatal automobile accident while driving to and from the building. Asbestos in building air will almost never pose a health hazard to building occupants".This soft white chrysotile is common in many parts of the United States. In the San Francisco Bay area, for example, there are widespread outcroppings of serpentine rock, which weathers, releasing chrysotile asbestos fibers to the atmosphere and water supplies. There is no evidence of elevated rates of asbestos-related lung disease in California.A record measurement of asbestos in water comes from the Klamath River in California and Oregon where 300 billion fibers per liter were found. Imagine the asbestos spread over the ground when the river floods! Remember all this exposure is to the chrysotile type of asbestos. However, the average exposure of miners and other chrysotile asbestos workers in the workplace is about two fibers per cubic centimeter of air, an infinitesimal amount when compared to 300 billion fibers per liter.Hiram Perry writes on environmental, agricultural and other scientific topics for various Maine publications. Contact Hiram Perry by phone (234-2790) or email perry@uninets.net