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Monday, January 17, 2022

Asbestos, Minerals, and Toxins: Health Science Stifled

By Andrew Robbins

 CSMS Magazine Staff WriterBy the late 1890s, scientific and medical research began alerting governments and employers that casual handling and inhaling of earthen minerals resulted in severe illness. Growing the economy at the expense of citizens’ health created a government-corporate collusion that, to this day, continues to stifle the study of inorganic matter. Inorganic matter, in the form of toxic mineral pathogens, is mankind’s most prolific source of cancer illness. Asbestos deposits exist throughout our country. Yet, we know very little about the six minerals currently defined as asbestos; and we are operating blindly as to the health effects of the other 4,000 known minerals. Only those termed ‘commercially exploited’, have been rudimentarily studied.            Inhaled minerals contribute to the number of people diagnosed with complicated illnesses. In the United States, 2.4 million patients are diagnosed with cancer each year and more than 1,500 cancer patients succumb daily. These numbers do not reflect nonmalignant illnesses often caused by mineral inhalation but reported on death certificates as blood clot, cardiac/heart failure, renal/kidney failure, or respiratory/lung failure. More than 30 million Americans suffer with preventable chronic lung disease. Statistical data on those suffering from nonmalignant ‘dust’ inhalation diseases (such as those mentioned above) and other conditions, like asthma and erectile dysfunction, are subjective at best.            Health assessments reveal inhaled asbestos fibers, silica, or earthen ‘dust’ all produce similar life-challenging illnesses. Local government greed continues to place entire families at risk. In Indiana for example, communities such as Carmel, Fishers, and Noblesville have created urban sprawl by systematically annexing outlying rural properties. In their haste to generate additional property tax revenue, zoning boards have approved single-family residential developments adjoining agricultural and industrial enterprises. Entire school systems now adjoin industries that release toxins and carcinogens into our children’s breathable air.             Indiana’s current governor, Republican Mitch Daniels, recently opened Pandora’s box in an attempt to reduce his State’s health care cost. He appeared on television claiming exercise and a government sponsored ‘stop smoking campaign’ would reduce the State’s medical treatment outlays. While these initiatives may ease the burden, a review of Indiana’s lung cancer deaths reveals less than half are attributable to smoking. Statistically, the greater number of Indiana lung cancer deaths result from inhalation of ‘other’ airborne carcinogens, presumably those emanating from the Midwest’s industrial base.              Governor Daniels has proposed constructing an additional 74-mile beltway around the city of Indianapolis. The planned beltway requires new quarries and huge amounts of aggregate for road construction. Daniels, again, stops short of his health goal and leaves to local town zoning boards the decision on where the open pit mines will be located and in whose back yard. He avoids mentioning the most contaminated air in the Nation now hovers over the State of Indiana.            Like those in Indiana, many communities across our Nation prioritize commercial development as a higher priority than citizens’ health. Last December Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced legislation to forbid the Environmental Protection Agency from applying the Clean Air Act to dust and soot originating from farm activity. In many communities, aimless zoning ordinances allow residential construction adjacent to agricultural activities. This proximity leads to mineral, herbicide, and pesticide contamination of the ambient air of residential neighborhoods.            Most Americans do not realize how frequently they inhale dangerous earthen minerals. Minerals are all around us. They are found in products such as kitty litter, cosmetics, hygiene products, paint, potting soil, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, aggregate, concrete, plaster, insulation, sound-proofing, and water, just to name a few.             Government leaders fear awakening a sleeping public; thus they have limited interest in funding research and identifying another problem area. So, how does one stay informed and protect his or her family from preventable disease?            Many universities are experimenting with private research money. For a fee, university laboratories will analyze a variety of consumer products. For example, Lake Superior State University tests water samples from around the world for toxins and carcinogens. Ben Southwell is the university’s water technician. His email address is: bsouthwell@lssu.edu            After the Twin Towers collapsed, Mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared on television encouraging New Yorkers to return. “The area is now safe,” the mayor proclaimed, “come back and buy something. Start spending money!” Now, the first emergency responders are dying.              Responding to the World Trade Center disaster, a multi-agency task force, that included staff from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, developed a long-term, health-based asbestos benchmark. Taskforce researchers now recommend your air contain no more than 900 fibers per cubic centimeter (0.0009 f/cc). Their recommendation is drastically below the daily permissible exposure limit of 100,000 asbestos fibers (0.1 f/cc) that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) currently applies to our indoor air.            In light of this new recommendation, long-term exposures endured by employees during renovations, such as those of the Pentagon and the Major General Emmett J. Bean Center, suggest significant employee health problems lay ahead for both military and civilian personnel. Like other employers, the Department of Defense relies on OSHA’s scientifically outdated regulatory standard.              Minerals surround us. They are an integral part of our daily lives. Yet, we have limited knowledge of their impact on our health. Instead of fear mongering or denying their negative health impact, we should be expanding our knowledge of minerals and embracing how they enhance our quality of life. There is a need to educate our public about mineral dangers and to develop programs that teach us to safely coexist with them.              Philanthropic organizations, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, fund health and education initiatives. Billionaire Warren Buffet shares the Gates’ commitment to creating positive change in our world. Mr. Buffet pledged over $25 billion of his Berkshire Hathaway fortune to the Gates Foundation, thereby expanding and strengthening their collective purpose.            Is cancer a preventable illness? It may take the resolve and the financial support of the richest families in America to answer that question.Note: Andrew Robbins is the author of “It Took My Breath Away: One Man’s Experience May Save Your Life.”

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