The Gag! - A letter to the Tamworth Herald
I write to refute the Herald letter (9/11) by Neil Budworth, of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (click here to see letter) where he is critical of me and defends Tamworth Council as "right to be cautious" in their £50,000 spend on asbestos checks.
Surely - people might say - one might reasonably expect a health expert to know more that a mere local councillor? Normally I'd agree. But Mr. Budworth's letter misleads - and I have to ask why.
1.. He says asbestos "kills more people at work than anything else in the UK" and "4000 people die each year from inhaling asbestos". Yet his own Health and Safety Executive says only around 200 people died at work in the UK last year (2005). Does he mean work related deaths perhaps? And when deciding a death is "asbestos related" the science is very far from clear. In fact it's statistical guesswork! The death is mostly recorded as something else - and then they try to guess how many of those deaths "must be" related to asbestos. Some science!
2. Mr Budworth calls asbestos "deadly" and a "Class 1 Carcinogen". Emotive fear-mongering. Blue and brown asbestos are of course dangerous - no argument - but the science against chrysotile (white asbestos) - 95% of all asbestos - is much weaker. Perhaps I can bring Mr Budworth's comments into perspective by saying birth control pills, and a nice spring sunny day, are also recognised as "Class 1 Carcinogens".
In fact only this year the Government's own Health and Safety Laboratory reported that white asbestos in artex is so insignificant that it poses "no measurable risk to human health". Indeed study after study shows the same results for white asbestos. It's a con - caused by the similarity of the name - even to suggest white asbestos is the same material as the genuinely dangerous blue or brown asbestos. Of course it's only sensible that people should wear masks when working with the stuff - just like anything else that produces dust. But there's £1.5 billion industry to be protected here - and the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association has successfully lobbied our complicit Government to ignore it's own scientists and to leave this bad law unchanged! And it keeps the well-paid jobsworths of Health and Safety officialdom in lots of work.
But one thing Government guidance does agree is that white asbestos cement products are perfectly OK when undamaged and left alone. Tamworth Borough Council's £50,000 spending spree to check the Council's housing stock means inspectors will have to damage the stuff. And in doing so the law then allows that any fibre found - any fibre at all - can be classed as asbestos. And so the report will undoubted list many asbestos "finds". And then the Council will have to decide how many hundreds of thousands of pounds it should spend in "removal". It will be a completely unnecessary financial disaster for Tamworth. The Council should have known better. But they'd rather squander taxpayers money - and put the gag on those who try to question it.
And so I believe it's self interest and money that pushes asbestos law in the UK. And Mr Bedworth's letter hides much more than it tries to explain.
Chris Cooke - Glascote Independent Councillor
I can’t reproduce all the facts about Asbestos here. But here are some links to some useful articles and sites.
A site to expose the worst excesses of the Asbestos Removal Industry
The battle with established interests.
Asbestos Scare Costs Home-Owners Millions
The Medical Scams
Proof - if any were needed - that money is at the root of the vast majority of fear-mongering about white asbestos. Here the money is for people who are ill - and of course for the lawyers!
Look for yourself
You can get any amount of anti -asbestos internet information. Despite hysterical “warnings” about “dangers” not one piece of medical evidence can be used to support the campaign against white asbestos.
This battle is about one thing - MONEY - our money!
My rule of thumb?
When reading what’s
said my question is always
Hi - I’ve now been contacted by Professor John Bridle himself, of the Asbestos Watchdog (who was given my web address by the Sunday Telegraph no less!!). He has put a piece about my battle with Tamworth Council into his own regular newsletter (read it here). But more than that he has even offered give a seminar to Tamworth Council free of charge (the fee was £600 originally and dismissed by the Council as too expensive even though it was a very similar cost to other experts who give regular seminars to Tamworth Councillors.) Tamworth Council have been informed - but as yet no response. I’m not holding my breath!! :-(