Reader feedback on asbestos comparison

By ACSH Staff — Nov 01, 2010

Last week, we received constructive feedback from Richard W. Ferris on our discussion of asbestos fears while covering a CBS 2 news story that falsely accused PCBs found in some New York schools of having the ability to cause brain damage. We had quoted ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross as saying, “Remember what happened in the late 1980s when a similar panic developed over asbestos? Removing the asbestos actually did pose a health risk which, if it had remained undisturbed, would have never happened.” But Ferris says that the vast majority of asbestos abatements did not actually cause health problems:

I was disappointed at your seeming ignorance regarding asbestos abatement. Nearly ALL asbestos used as standard insulation was long fiber white asbestos which is water soluble, has zero health risks (much lower risk than the "fiberglass" insulation that replaced it — fiberglass in made from vermiculite which it turns out often contains small amount of the deadly short fiber white asbestos). Long fiber white asbestos used in the USA all comes from Canada where they have almost 200 years of miners health histories to back up their claim that long fiber asbestos is harmless to humans. Over 90% of all asbestos abatement is of the harmless variety…Thank you for being one of the best sources for accurate scientific information on health related issues!

Actually, thank you, Mr. Ferris, for your email and your kind words.