Junkscience in asbestos abatement response?

The EPA’s OIG has questioned EPA’s policies for some asbestos abatements. Responses conflate  asbestos deaths with the EPA’s policy imminent collapse policy.The EPA Office of Inspector General has published a report questioning EPA standards for demolition of buildings imminent danger of collapse. Asbestos abatement during demolition is done, in part, by thoroughly wetting asbestos-containing parts.  The unfiltered runoff could exceed EPA’s reportable quantity for asbestos.  The OIG report says “release of potentially harmful quantities” in titles.

Environmental reporting says “EPA’s Asbestos Guidelines Pose Serious Threat to Public Health, Says Agency’s Own Inspector General.”  This misrepresents the OIG report which does not contain “serious threat” in the report.  The OIG report indicates that EPA may be miscounting quantity (1 lb) released, which would activate CERCLA.  The EcoWatch article cited above also uses a figure of 12,000-15,000 people killed annually by asbestos from the Environmental Working Group Action Fund, which derived the figures.

The response appears to conflate annual deaths from asbestos (asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma) with demolition of buildings in imminent danger of collapse, in which abatement is done according to established procedures.  Also, these diseases generally take years to develop and seem to come from more from people exposed prior to asbestos being recognized as a health risk.  Also, the risk from this practice has a very limited footprint for exposure and nothing in the way of air sampling or exposure.

It’s interesting to note that pictures from the OIG report include WWII-era Army buildings at Ft. Chaffee.  I’ve stayed in those and a number of other buildings of that genre. As have quite a number of members of the military.

Never let the opportunity for a scare to go to waste?


5 responses to “Junkscience in asbestos abatement response?

  1. When I was a kid I relined the rear [internal-expanding] brake on my bike.
    There were warnings both in the packaging of the linings and the general instruction manuals for brake linings about the need to avoid breathing asbestos dust. I have followed these instructions diligently ever since….
    We had a factory making asbestos-cement wallboards about a mile away. When it closed decades later there was a big stir up about the dangers workers had been exposed to……
    The official [multi-sourced] conclusion was that the probability of lung damage from years of working with asbestos was about 1 in 1000…….0.1%
    Professional pseudo-chemophobes have carved out lucrative careers based on asbestos disposal……..

    • Westchester Bill

      The law presumes Mesothelioma cases arise from asbestos exposure. Now, after decades of effort to limit asbestos exposure, the rate of Mesothelioma is about the same. I believe this datum, if confirmed, proves asbestos litigation to be nothing more than fraud.

      • Agreed, but I’d like to see the ages of the new cases. You’d think the incidences would be dropping off because those exposed are getting to the point that they drop out of the potential pool for any number of reasons.

  2. Pity that chrysotile fibres were labelled asbestos. We lost a wonder fibre that was so useful in so many ways.

  3. Currently the government is fighting against asbestos for reduce the harm to public health. Stop import and using asbestos materials.

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