The subject in Washington, D.C., when the Science Advisory Board (SAB) of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Asbestos Committee met in July was the potential for asbestos to cause cancer, in particular to cause malignant mesothelioma. Under consideration was a proposed change in the EPA’s risk assessment for a type of asbestos fiber known as chrysotile used in 90% of all asbestos-containing products sold throughout the United States. A lower exposure standard for this type of asbestos would have a damaging effect on public health and seriously hinder the ability of victims of asbestos disease to recover damages in legal proceedings. Asbestos companies would urge a lower exposure standard as evidence that chrysotile asbestos does not cause mesothelioma, a position at odds with the weight of scientific opinion on this issue.
Attorney John Comerford and two of the Firm’s clients traveled to Washington to appear at the hearing and to voice their concerns regarding the Board’s intentions. Numerous public health experts throughout the United States and Canada attended the hearing to speak against a weakening of the EPA’s regulations on asbestos.
John Comerford presented testimony from two clients at the hearing regarding their exposure to brake dust and the resultant mesothelioma disease which developed from such exposure. Mrs. Girton, from Greene, New York, testified that her husband was exposed to brakes for over 30 years, and provided heartfelt testimony about the terrible consequences mesothelioma had on her husband and family. Mr. Bennett Scott Hoser, of New Jersey, testified that his exposure to farm tractor brakes caused his malignant mesothelioma. Mr. Comerford presented lung studies of both clients showing that their lungs were loaded with chrysotile asbestos fibers from brake exposure. “We attended this hearing in Washington, D.C. to address the Board on the true and very real dangers of chrysotile asbestos,” said John Comerford. “Our clients supported this effort by testifying that exposure to chrysotile can and does cause malignant mesothelioma, and that this issue should not be ignored or watered down.”