Dear Senator Leahy:
I practice medicine in rural, underserved North Carolina. I have mesothelioma
from exposure to asbestos as a teenager.
Although I am very short of breath and in chronic pain following surgery,
I am able to work part time, enough to keep my family above water.
My exposure was brief, and I understand that criteria contained in the
current version of the asbestos bill likely would exclude me from compensation.
I will almost certainly not be around to spend any money from the proposed
compensation fund in any case, as it will take at least 2 years for existing
claims to be processed.
My real concern is for the many others yet to become ill: those who were
exposed while serving their country, the firefighters and other relief
personnel at ground zero in New York, teachers, blue collar workers, and
also others like me: folks who worked with common, everyday products they
had no idea were toxic.
Senator Leahy, the companies who made those products did know. And they
have long been lobbying Congress to shield them from the consequences
of their unethical behavior.
Those who consciously exposed people to one of the most toxic materials
known should face criminal charges. They poisoned many thousands of people.
And they have convinced many of our elected officials that it's just
Money is important, to the large majority of victims more than to me. But
there are three more important things to pursue: 1) a complete ban on
the importation and use of asbestos; 2) adequate funds for research into
early diagnosis, treatment, and cure of asbestos-related disease;
and 3) prosecution of those responsible for ongoing exposure of innocent
The bill you are now considering does none of these things. It is a shameful
industry bailout that fails to address the problem or the solution.
Please help defeat this bill. Thank you.
Bret C. Williams, MD MPH