Thursday, July 19, 2007

Memo to Manhattan: Dust Floats, and Asbestos Dust Floats Longer Than Other Dusts

A man wears a respirator over his face near the site of a steam pipe explosion in midtown Manhattan during the morning commute in New York July 19, 2007. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The government is lying to the people of New York City again. The steam pipe that exploded in midtown last night was insulated with asbestos, and asbestos was found in the debris in the area. New York City's Office of Emergency Management then announced that the air was safe to breathe.

That is complete and utter bullshit. I have represented people exposed to asbestos since 1983, and I know the following to be true:

(1) Dust floats.

(2) Asbestos dust floats longer than other dusts. Asbestos has unique aerodynamic properties. The mineral frays into tiny microscopic rectangles, and they float in the air like little balsa airplanes.

(3) THERE IS NO SAFE LEVEL OF EXPOSURE TO ASBESTOS. Asbestos is a carcinogen, and there is no safe level of exposure to a carcinogen.

Don't listen to the authorities. If you live or work in the affected area, you are breathing air which has asbestos particles in it. It may be a small amount, but it's there, and there's no safe level of exposure to a carcinogen. Limit your exposure. Keep your windows closed. Above all, don't listen to the government when they tell you there's no risk. That's false and misleading. There's a reason that the people working at the site are wearing respirators. There's asbestos in the air.

Incredibly, asbestos has not been banned in this country. It is still sold every day and more and more asbestos enters our environment. I support Senator Patty Murray's bill to ban asbestos.

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