More on the World Trade Center area cleanup

Almost 6 years after the terrorist attacks, lower Manhattan has recovered somewhat; Building 7 of the WTC was rebuilt, plans are underway for more buildings, and over 15,000 people have moved into the area in recent years. However, the legacy of asbestos remains. The Deutsche Bank was damaged back in Sept 2001 and has never been demolished, partly because of on-going concern about asbestos removal and other toxic materials. The building’s owner says it can’t be sealed until fire safety rules are agreed on and the building is stabilized, but the EPA has blocked the plan. Meanwhile two firefighters died in a conflagration at Deutsche Bank in August.

Conflict of interest among public health experts?

There’s always a temptation for regulators and policy-makers and their advisors to take money from the very interests they are regulating/overseeing/legislating. It recently came out that the epidemiologist Richard Doll, who famously established the link between smoking and cancer, was a paid consultant to the chemical industry, even when he was conducting a government study on the hazards of Agent Orange. He also worked for Newall, a British asbestos manufacturer.

There is so much money tied up in asbestos that we must always look at the motivations and backgrounds of anyone making statements about the facts.

Vento testifies; asbestos bill reintroduced

The Senate Health Committee’s employment and workplace safety subcommittee held a hearing yesterday and the widow of Bruce Vento testified. Vento was a congressman who died several years ago from mesothelioma. Senator Patty Murray is continuing her crusade to ban asbestos, and reintroduced her bill to ban the material. Murray has tried to get this bill passed before, but it always died. This time, she has committee chair Barbara Boxer as a co-sponsor, and reportedly has the support of majority leader Harry Reid, so prospects look better.

Exposed as a child; sick as an adult

The British Press Association is reporting about 47-year-old woman with mesothelioma who was exposed to asbestos dust as a child. Her father died last year from cancer, and the woman Debra Brewer remembers asbestos on his work clothing when she was young. There are unfortunately many such cases of children being exposed through their father’s clothes. The long latency period of mesothelioma means the disease may not show up for decades, but when it does, it is devastating.

Key figure in Libby situation dies of mesothelioma

The Washington Post reports (via the Los Angeles Times) the passing of Les Skramstad, one of the early leaders notifying the world about the dangers from the Libby Montana vermiculite mine. Skramstad worked there from 1959 to 1962 and was diagnosed with asbestosis in 1996. He subsequently got mesothelioma, which is what he died from. A landmark in this long, strange story.