Not all asbestos created equal

Re: Asbestos industry kept alive, Science Matters, July 19.

To the Editor

Re: Asbestos industry kept alive, Science Matters, July 19.

As usual, David Suzuki presents us with a generalization that conforms to the way in which he feels his world should be.

He is so busy slamming asbestos in general and Canada in particular that he ignores the fact that the word ‘asbestos’ has very sloppily been accepted over the years to cover three completely different kinds of material.

There is no doubt that the blue and brown types of asbestos can be deadly; however white, the third type, is actually chrysotile and not an asbestos at all.

Unlike the blue and brown, chrysotile does not have little hooks attached to its fibres preventing their expulsion from the lungs and, according to several scientific reports, can actually work its way out of the lungs in as little as three weeks. It is taken for granted that people working in any kind of dusty environment should take normal precautions.

Fortunes have been made by environmentalists, lawyers, consultants and ‘specially trained’ asbestos removal contractors, all of whom continue to avoid recognising any differentiation in the various types of asbestos.

This enables them to charge outlandish sums for the recognition and removal of chrysotile that is alledgedly dangerous, yet according to many experts is no more threatening to health than the gyproc in drywall.

In the U.K., there is a non-profit organization known as Asbestos Watchdog that makes it their business to fight against the unnecessary removal of chrysotile and over a period of several years they have saved millions of pounds sterling for those who have consulted them.

Although they are backing a very powerful lobby and have been hauled into court on several occasions, to the best of my knowledge they have as yet never lost a legal battle.

Perhaps Suzuki might like to contact them and get his facts straightened out regarding what has been scientifically discovered about the various types of asbestos.

Garry Bradford

Nanaimo