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Once More Asbestos

June 21, 1992

Brenda Henrich's letter (May 31) responding to a May 10 article on asbestos will only serve to continue "homeowner's confusion whether asbestos is really a health threat. . . .." The studies she mentioned at Mount Sinai School of Medicine initiated the scare, but those studies were directed toward occupational safety--mining, manufacturing and applying asbestos fibers. OSHA correctly imposed regulations regarding these workplaces.

The EPA decided that if it is bad in the workplace, it must be bad in the environment, and mandated the removal of all asbestos-bearing materials in schools.

The American entrepreneurial spirit arose and many new businesses specializing in asbestos removal were established. The building financiers and insurers concerned about potential liability joined in and the "wave of panic" followed.

EPA Administrator William Reilly declared recently, "The government and EPA specifically must accept a share of the responsibility for the misperceptions that have led to unwarranted anxiety and unnecessary asbestos removal."

Linda J. Fisher, an assistant EPA administrator, has advised that asbestos in a building does not mean that its occupants are exposed to a health hazard. The vast majority of reported cancers to date were among mining, manufacturing and maritime workers and these cases are linked to long-term (25 years) and high exposure 1,000 times higher than the (asbestos) dust rates currently found in the work environments and 200,000 times higher than in buildings containing asbestos.

To say that the type of asbestos found in homes is a health threat is simply not true. Brenda Henrich works for a business that deals with asbestos removal. The Times should have seen through the self-serving nature of her letter.



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