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Important Studies Relating to Asbestos Fiber Size

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is claiming that asbestos fibers shorter than 5 microns in length are safe and harmless. EPA's testing of air in apartments in NYC, contaminated by asbestos after the WTC collapse, only looked for these longer fibers. EPA ignored all the shorter fibers that it found.

EPA is assuming that the very small fibers are cleared from the body because they are small enough to be engulfed by macrophages, and thus do not remain long enough to cause cancer.

However, these two new studies contradict this hypothesis. There are other studies as well which contradict EPA's hypothesis.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) held a conference in New York City last week bringing together a very limited, select number of researchers who are working on this controversial "small fiber" issue. We do not know whether or not the ATSDR is intending to consider all the available evidence on small fibers, or apply the precautionary principle and assume that the small fibers have carcinogenic effects until absolutely proven to be harmless.

Cate Jenkins

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Asbestos tissue burden study on human malignant mesothelioma.

Industrial Health, 39, 150-160.
Y. Suzuki and R. Yuen (2001)
[Mount Sinai School of Medicine]

Asbestos fibers contributing to the induction of human malignant mesothelioma.

Y. Suzuki and R. Yuen (2002)
[Mount Sinai School of Medicine]
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, in press.