Asbestos: Socio-legal and Scientific Controversies and Unsound Science in the Context of the Worldwide Asbestos Tragedy – Lessons to be Learned

Pneumolgie (Stuttgart, Germany) 2016 April 28 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Baur X.


Eight to fifteen per cent of lung cancer cases and nearly all mesothelioma cases are caused by asbestos. Problems in compensation issues ensue from strict legal requirements for eligibility and regulations of the statutory accident insurance institution pertaining to eligibility for occupational disease benefits. The latter include the unscientific requirement for set numbers of asbestos bodies or fibers to be found in lung tissue in order to “prove” disease causation if lung specimen are available. Although the validity of such evidence has been discredited by independent scientists, it is still used as evidence by an influential US pathology department. Frequently, epidemiological evidence regarding causal relationships and exposure histories is also often being ignored by insurance-affiliated medical experts.Similar misleading arguments are currently being used in newly industrialized countries where white asbestos – which is carcinogenic and fibrogenic like other asbestos types – is efficiently promoted as being less harmful. As a result, asbestos use is increasing in some of these countries. Behind the worldwide asbestos tragedy, a well-designed strategy orchestrated by certain transnational or multinational industrial interest groups can be perceived.Beyond the asbestos tragedy their covert plan is motivated by economic interests and discounts the ensuing damage to health and the impact of the diseases they create on public health systems.