April 13, 2017 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 0Comment

A coincidence? A tip from the well-connected? Divine intervention?

Whatever the reason, the timing couldn’t have been more appropriate. Last weekend, a hundred physicians, patients, and trade unionists were attending the 13th Annual ADAO International Asbestos Awareness and Prevention Conference. At exactly the same time, comedian Bill Maher was skewering the Trump Administration and Republican lawmakers for their defense of asbestos.

Maher’s smackdown of the Republican’s anti-science and anti-health policies came in a pointed 5-minute segment on the April 7 episode of HBO’s Real Time. The asbestos-part of his monologue begins at 00:03:23.

“…who the f–k is still in the corner of big asbestos in 2017?”

“when was the last time you heard someone say ‘Yeah, just bought a house and can’t wait to move in… but not until they install the asbestos.'”

Watch it to get the full effect.

Maher’s monologue also called out Trump and the Republicans for their plans to rollback protections for children from chlorpyrifos, the phase-out of the use of lead in ammunition at wildlife refuges, stricter vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, and improved nutrition standards for school lunches.

I’m with Maher. Who are the greedy lame-brains that still want to import and use asbestos?

A recent call by the EPA for public comments about asbestos tells us the knuckleheads include the American Chemistry Council, the Vinyl Institute, and an unnamed client represented by the law firm Beveridge & Diamond. In contrast, a health-protective point of view about asbestos was offered by the International Association of Fire Fighters, the American Public Health Association, and the North American Building Trades Unions.

Exposure to asbestos is responsible for more than more than 107,000 deaths globally each year, many of which result from asbestos-related cancers. The current toll in the U.S. was presented in a recent brief published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The authors notes the troubling and striking incidence of mesothelioma among individuals aged 55 or younger. These deaths (as well as the tens of thousands from years passed) are the horrible legacy of 31 million metric tons of asbestos being mined, imported, and used in the U.S. since 1900.  And some greedy, but powerful few want the right to pile onto that poisonous legacy?

Maher uses sharp language to chastise Republicans for their defense of asbestos. His words might offend some listeners. To me, Maher’s crass language can’t compare to the health-harming deeds proposed by the President and his allies. No matter how much the defenders of asbestos dodge and weave the evidence, there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.





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