Thursday, August 14, 2008

Asbestos exposure

Like many of the homeowners affected by the propane explosion, I am disturbed by the a lack of public and media information regarding the risk of asbestos exposure in developing cancer. However, a search of the scientific literature reveals some hard numbers. Although chronic environmental exposure to asbestos increases the risk of mesothelioma (asbestos-caused lung cancer) by seven times, such exposure needs to be prolonged.(1) Most cases develop after an average of 18 years of continued exposure.(2)

Public health authorities need to convey this information to residents affected by the blast so that concerned homeowners can understand the facts, and not degenerate into screaming matches at press conferences.

Update: This post was published as a Letter to the Editor in The Toronto Star (Saturday, August 16, 2008, Page AA5).