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Re: [ARSCLIST] Somewhat off-topic: Corporate responsibility concerning produc...
At 08:10 PM 6/14/2005, Mike Csontos Mwcpc6@xxxxxxx wrote:
Many people had asbestos siding on the house.
I did and, on occasion drilled and sabre-sawed it in the 60s and 70s.
We had asbestos coated cardboard insulation on the steam pipes with the
joints covered with asbestos cement. I used to play with some left over
Me too, but I think it was more asbestos than cardboard over our steam
pipes, covered in fraying cloth. Of course, some of the vertical runs got
dinged and what flaked out?
Everybody lived in that environment. I don't know of anybody who developed
asbestosis (there were no shipyards in the area). Where are the bodies?
To put this in perspective, one should read some of the stories about
people working in asbestos mines and mills. A friend of mine runs the Web
site for the now-ghost town of Cassiar, BC. My wife and I stopped there for
lunch on our driving trip to Alaska in 1989 and it's amazing that a town
that was thriving is now gone. We think of ghost towns from the 1800s and
perhaps the early 1900s, but here is one that was ghosted in 1992!
Here is the link to a particularly interesting asbestos story. Now, of
course, Cassiar mined "good" asbestos--the long-fibre white kind if I
This is found at http://www.cassiar.ca/ under "Herb's story" but rather
than have you all go navigate his wonderful site, here it is. Herb is the
Web master for cassiar.ca. It's a fascinating site if you're interested in
rugged and gorgeous landscape, the North, and wilderness.
I remember working one summer as a student, my first full-time job with
Cassiar. I was assigned to the mill department as a labourer, I think it
was about 1971. There was no job orientation that I can recall and was
handed a broom and an aluminum grain shovel and taken upstairs and shown
a floor to sweep. It was a large floor but there were pipes and equipment
all over the place breaking up the expanse in to lots of smaller areas so
that you generally could see only short stretches from most locations. It
was covered in asbestos dust about two inches deep. I was shown a
wheelbarrow and where to dump the dust and then I was left on my own.
Wanting to make a good impression it being my first day on the job, I
tackled the floor with gusto, thinking that this floor must not get much
traffic to get such a heavy layer of dust as there weren't many
footprints in the dust. I worked steadily, the fine, light dust sweeping
up easily on the nice hardwood floors and I dumped many wheelbarrows full
of dust. I carefully got all the dust from around the numerous nooks and
crannies around and under the machinery. After about two hours of this it
was nearly time for coffee break and I stopped to turn around and survey
my work. I was shocked to discover that the area where I had started
already had about half an inch of dust again! Needless to say I realized
that it was more important to be less meticulous about nooks and crannies
and just sweep the bulk of the dust and go for high production instead.
Note: I don't recall being issued a dust mask that summer. As awareness
of health risks from exposure to asbestos rose dust control measures
improved and mill workers were issued dust masks and their use became
mandatory. Employees went to the Cassiar Hospital annually for a physical
exam which included testing for asbestosis. The tests were a chest x-ray
and blowing into a lung efficiency machine. When it was learned that
cigarette smokers were at 400% higher risk of getting asbestosis than
non-smokers the company made lots of effort to encourage smokers to quit
smoking. I did. I have made my physician aware of this history of
exposure and still get regular chest x-rays. So far they have been clear.
Sadly he said by the time anything showed up on an x-ray it was already
There are reports from time-to-time of people who had lived and worked in
Cassiar dying of mesothalimia. So far, my friend Herb has been lucky--maybe
his fishing business north of Vancouver is keeping him healthy.
It bothers me when I hear of people who feel that they must run to the
doctor, the EPA, or to a lawyer whenever they see a speck of anything that
imagine might be asbestos. Something is not quite right here.
People somehow need to get a realistic picture of the nature of the real
world. This should be a principle task of our educational system. Instead it
seems to be left to the sensational news media and those who have vested
interests in making mountains out of molehills. Someone should be resisting
A few of us try, but extremists on both sides are not to be believed. It is
extremely complex to figure all of this out for oneself, and it's hard to
know who to believe.
Thanks for your post of sanity, Mike! Asbestos now has to take its place
among nuclear power, depleted uranium, silicone breast implants, agent
orange, dioxin in general, PCBs, ozone-depleting chemicals, and a host of
other things that are demanding our attention for cleanup or reduction.
Richard L. Hess email: richard@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Media web: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/
Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX