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Sunday, 26 September 2010

Booker on Asbestos

Nice to see Christopher Booker helping to inject some common sense into the Asbestos hysteria, and in the Mail of all places, too. To the layman, Asbestos is as deadly as Plutonium, a microgram bringing instant death. In fact, you need to be exposed to a large volume of Asbestos over a long period of time to run a real risk.

The Asbestos Survey has become a precondition of almost every construction scheme. And almost always comes up positive unless you're building on a greenfield site. You see, Asbestos is ubiquitous; it's contained in the hard plastic that old toilet seats are made out of, in lino floor tiles and even as flash pads inside electrical switches. Dig a trial pit on any London brownfield site and you'll find Asbestos - even if it's in an old Bakelite doorknob.  

But it's all religiously removed by blokes in full respirator suits and double-bagged for disposal in special landfill sites. And people wonder why construction is so expensive ...

Post script
Asbestosis and Mesothelioma usually occur after high intensity and/or long-term exposure to asbestos (particularly in those individuals working on the production or end-use of products containing asbestos). There is much scientific literature on the subject, including An Expert System for the Evaluation of Historical Asbestos Exposure as Diagnostic Criterion in Asbestos related Diseases by Burdorf and Swuste (Erasmus) published by the British Occupational Hygiene Society (Full text HERE).

I reproduce the decision tree for Mesothelioma below;

The disease is only attributable to Asbestos where exposure exceeds daily working exposure in air containing over 1 fibre per 2 cubic centimeters for more than six months. 

If you're going to comment, please do so on the basis of attributable scientific evidence, not scary folk-tales and anecdotal evidence. 


Anonymous said...

In fact, you need to be exposed to a large volume of Asbestos over a long period of time to run a real risk.

That's simply not true. Your claim is without scientific basis and you are either ignorant or being willfully dishonest.

The fact is that asbestosis - and the associated pleural plaques and the eventual death by mesothelioma - can be brought on by inhalation of a single particle of asbestos.

This is reality, Raedwald. This is the science. This is what is true. You, on the other hand, are insisting that anything which is inconvenient to you personally cannot possibly be true.

What is it about humans that makes them delusional whenever they're faced with things they don't want to be true?

Raedwald said...

Oh really. I think you're in la-la land.

Take a look at the expert medical and scientific research evaluating the probabilities of either asbestosis or mesothelioma being attributable to occupational exposure to asbestos; I'll deal with this as a postscript to the post.

English Pensioner said...

I am in two minds about it.
On one hand it is clear that we have become hysterical about asbestos and certain sections of industry are making a fortune from this hysteria.
On the other hand, I had a retied work colleague who died from asbestosis. We'd worked together for many years, and no-one could find out how or where he'd got it.

Tufty said...

For cases of asbestos and mesothelioma, the patient's actual exposure to asbestos is unknown - obviously because it won't have been monitored. Although single fibres have been found in pleural plaques, this does not mean or even imply that the patient was only ever exposed to a single fibre. I suspect that the single fibre story arose from poor journalism.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Great article, Raedwald. It is indeed hysteria over asbestos. Quite incredibly so. But then, other hysterical scares have been overlaid so that none question this nonsense anymore.

Garage roofs, for example, were routinely made of solid asbestos and are apparently perfectly safe until removed, then they become so deeply toxic that they can't be allowed to be picked up (by men in suits) unless wrapped in a certain thickness of polythene and left ... on the street (because they can't be moved by council workers, oh no, too dangerous).

Yes, asbestosis exists, and yes it kills if inhaled on a regular basis, but the wild over-reaction to any interaction with it is quite laughable.

As a previous commenter said, much of the hyperbole is a construct of claim lawyers who still advertise hugely in industrial areas of the UK.

Anon needs to look into these things a bit more and realise that that he/she is being lied to on a daily basis, beginning in the mid 70s.

Anonymous said...

I often wondered what happened to the great asbestos epidemic after the war.
Asbestos was the wonder thing then . It lagged the water pipes and they didn't burst in winter - it was in ships and factories. As well everybody smokes and quite a few had TB. Almost ideal mesothelioma conditions.

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