In a message dated 6/15/2005 2:41:02 AM Eastern Standard Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:
The anecdotal evidence presented on this list regarding asbestos is
compelling, but at least for me, the "asbestos fear" is still deeply
ingrained, and I would need to see the underlying scientific basis of
good and bad asbestos before I let go of my media/government/lawyer
Until I am thoroughly educated on asbestos, I will continue to take
precautions when working with anything that has asbestos. Which
includes testing for it if I'm suspicious. If anyone is aware of
any scientific studies that quantify asbestos exposure, I'd be
interested in reading them
There is a fundamental difference between the dangers of mold on records and
tapes, mercury in thermometers and thermostats, or lead in paint and sealing
compounds, and the risks from asbestos, PCBs and radiation.
The former cause immediate reaction or at least cumulative reactions, while
the latter are triggering agents. A single cosmic ray, fiber, or molecule could
cause a mutation in a cell that evolves into cancer. It is just that the
probability of the event is astronomically small. It takes an astronomically large
number of these particles to make the probability high enough make it
reasonable for you to change your way of life.
Unfortunately the public does not understand probabilities. Some will spend
hours and thousands of dollars on a 1:100,000,000 chance of winning a lottery.
When the media report 100 cases of some personal disaster, out of the
6,000,000,000 people on the planet, people think it must be about to happen to them.
Then the honest scientist, in a ten-second interview, agrees that it is
possible, just as it is possible that the earth will be destroyed by a giant
asteroid next week. An exposure inherently based on probabilities can't be
quantified. It is an analog world.
When I find a moldy tape or disc, or an old piece of A-V equipment with some
flaking fibers insulation around a motor or lamp housing, I simply carefully,
outdoors if possible, remove the material, avoiding breathing it, but not
feeling it is a significant risk.
In an institutional setting however there is a significant risk; that of
being sued buy an employee or a volunteer worker. If they feel, completely
subjectively, that they have been harmed by a provable exposure to asbestos, PCBs,
mold spores, etc., under your direction, they have a potent weapon to use if
they become disgruntled for any reason.
I'm not sure what corporate responsibility means in this situation. I feel
that there is some sort of societal irresponsibility at work here.