Opinion asbestos lawsuits by jolinmilioncherie


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O p inio n                                         EL~ TORlAL

    EPA offi cials are
   just blowing smoke
   The EnaironmentallyPrRtection        asbestos-removal programs .
Agency today will foster yet anoth-        The Great American Asbestos
er hoax on the American people as       Hoax was launched in the late
it begins a campaign of public mis-     1970s when the govarnment pre-
information on the hazards o~ sec-      dicted dustrial exposure would
ondhand smoke.            '             lead to 75,000, deaths from asbes-
   The EPA will report H`~' great       tos-r9tated cancer annually .
fanfare today that -pa~we .' to-        Asbtstos was banned everywhere .
bacco smoke is a class A carcino-       Schools,iuciuding those in Sullivan
gen that kills 3,000 people             County, spent millions of dollars
annually, causes 150,000 to 300,000     removing it . And last year, the 5th
cases of bronchitis and pneumonia       Circuit Court of Appeals threw out
every year in young children aged       the ban when the EPA failed to
up to 1S months, worseas asthma         make a case even for 13 to 15
symptoms for 200,000 to I million       asbestos-related cancer deaths a
children yearly, and increases the      year among heavily exposed brake
chances that children who don't         workers .
have asthma will get it .
                                           The asbestos hoax resulted
   The report will certainly in-
                                        from bad science and "•estimates"
crease efforts to eliminate smok-
                                        put out by EPA that were never
ing in publir- places and in the
                                        submitted to scientitic peer re-
workplace - especially in lo-
                                        view . Suctyis the case with EPA's
cations like schools where children
                                        latest cancer scare : The report to
face expoaure . It will give lawyers
                                        be r~le,ased today, according'to the
access to a gold mine of liability
                                        Heril;i{ge Foundation, is not based
cases in'lawsuits against compa-
                                        on standard scientific methods, but
nies and individuals - even paren-
                                        methods specifically devised by
ts - that allow smoking in the
                                        EPA to yielS the desired result .
workplace, in public establish-
                                        Estimates of the effects of passive
ments like taverns, perhaps even
                                        smoking are guesses - unscientif-
in the home .
                                        ic guesses that also have not been
   Departing . EPA Administrator        submitted to peer review .
William Reilly seems to relish the
thought : "If you were running a           We support bans on smoking in
bar or an airline or a body shop or     schools and have spoken on the
whatever and you saw your people        hazards of smoking and the need
smoking or you allowed custo :ners      for educational programs, partic-
to smoke, you'd be opening your-        ularly targeted on young people .
self up 10 years, 15 years later to     But it's critical to public policy
lawsuits . And people would be able     that government adheres to tradi-
to say you knew you were exposing       tional and rigorous scientific meth-
us to cancer . There wasn't any         ods whenever it make
doubt about the issue . The govern-     pronouncements dealing with such
ment has •poken on the question"        issues as public health .
- just as it did on the question of        In doing so, EPA has demon-
asbestos i,l the workplace, c" .ich     strated once again that it is hot to'
cost taxpayers billions of dollars in   be trusted .

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