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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

The Chrysotile Defense for Russian Fiber, IARC and Lancet

Asbestos litigation, cancer and IARC are not without politics. In a February 2, 2013 Lancet article online, the author describes various U.S. litigation expert witnesses for plaintiff launching an attack on IARC’s decisions related to participation in a conference addressing Russian asbestos fibers and the "chrysotile" defense. Sad to say, it is often hard to separate science and politics, on all sides of issues. For Us lawyers, the key quote from the article is as follows:

"In a letter to IARC’s Director-General Wild signed by Richard Lemen (retired US Assistant Surgeon General and adjunct professor at the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA), Arthur Frank (Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA, USA), and Barry Castleman (author of Asbestos Medical and Legal Aspects), the authors argue that “Kovalevskiy is a leading promoter of use of chrysotile asbestos. He testified before the Supreme Court of Brazil in August 2012, as witness on behalf of the Brazilian Chrysotile Institute. He testified that there is no evidence whatsoever to justify banning the use of chrysotile asbestos; that he opposes placing chrysotile asbestos on the Rotterdam Convention’s List of Hazardous Substances; that, in the past, harm to health was caused by the use of amphibole asbestos and excessive, prolonged exposure levels to chrysotile asbestos, but that, today, chrysotile asbestos is causing no harm to health in Russia. We consider that it is unacceptable that a scientist, who is a promoter of chrysotile asbestos use, should be a lead scientist on an IARC research project regarding chrysotile asbestos."

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