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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

The Asbestos and the Tobacco industries had a complex relationship over the years since both products were known to cause lung-cancer. They went through periods where they tried to blame each other for the spate of lung-cancer which epidemiologists were demonstrating. They they decided to cooperate, and attack the science of epidemiology itself, and share in the costs of bribery and corruption of health officials and compliant scientists. Later they began fighting again over who should share what portion of compensation.

Asbestos is the generic term for any member of the large group of fibrous, asbestiform (Definition- fiber length at least 5 times fiber width) minerals. Some were widely used for their heat resistant properties- in products from toasters; cladding in power stations and ships; brake pads; and fire-resistant building products, or for their strengthening properties- (analogous to glass fibers in fiberglass/resin) in concrete sewer pipes and house siding shingles; reinforced floor tiles; acoustical ceiling tiles; wall plaster; and certain rigid polymers.

The most commonly used mineral with the name asbestos, is the serpentine-group member named chrysotile. This is white, friable and can cause asbestosis - if enough of it's dust is inhaled,. The body's encapsulation response, deep in the lung, results in much-reduced lung tidal-volume similar to that in late-stage tuberculosis. Non-carcinogenic chrysotile only obstructs the lung.

Other types of asbestos are credited with other problems. Amphibole-group members or the mineral are croccidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, actinolite, and tremolite which are associated with the otherwise-rare form of cancer known as mesothelioma. Even when exposure is limited - daily exposures to blue croccidolite, some for only several weeks, has been shown to have produced, decades later, to mesothelioma fatalities among those exposed.

The heath concerns about asbestos stem from:

  • its inert nature (the body can't break the material down and eliminate it,
  • the fineness of the fibres -- they are small enough to penetrate the nucleus of body cells and effect the genetic function
  • the long-thin, needle-like physical nature which encourages embedding in tissues

It is generally recognise that the most dangerous of the fibres are those which are the least visible in the air.

So the main health problems associated with asbestos are:

  • asbestosis, which is a non-malignant scaring of the lung leading increasingly to breathing problems to the extent that they can eventually cause heart failure. Bad cases usually need to carry oxygen bottles to supplement their normal breathing. About 7-10% of asbestos workers die from this condition
  • lung cancer, which is indistinguishable from the lung cancer associated with smoking. The famous research Irving J Selikoff discovered that the two were very highly synergistic -- meaning that smoking asbestos workers got lung-cancer at much, much higher rates (5 to 60x) the rates which would be from either lung insult alone. This led to courtroom battles when the tobacco industry blamed asbestos and asbestos blamed tobacco -- until eventually the two industries got together and began joint defensive actions
  • gastro-intestinal cancers: asbestos workers have stomach and bowel cancers at far higher rates than normal.
  • mesothelioma, which is a peculiar form of cancer of the membranes which surrounds the lung and line the chest of abdominal cavity - the pleura and peritoneum.. It results from fibres penetrating the lung over many years -- typically about 40 years. It appears to be only associated with asbestos, but it has a long incubation period and then it manifests, and generally kills within one year. Selikoff estimated that about 7% of workers got mesothelioma, but the rate may be higher now with increased normal longevity.

It is important to realise that until the 1980s, almost everyone was exposed to small quantities of asbestos in the environment. It had been seen as a 'miracle fibre' and had at least 3000 recognised uses: from asbestos cement sheeting, roof-tiles, hot-plates for stoves, heat-mats, fridge insulation, electrical machine insulation, blown wall and ceiling insulation fibres, etc. Small traces are also found in some baby talc powders, and some forms of Magnesia insulation had 15% asbestos fibres. Asbestos is also used in 'spray on' form when mixed into an adhesive material.

It is still used to reinforce brake-linings where it is assumed to be relatively safe since the fibres don't become airborne.

Many of the arguments about removal have been over whether the dangers are increased, or decreased, by physical removal of material which may be fairly stable in situ. Some claim that the best approach is always to douse the loose fibres with oils or bonding adhesives and leave them in place, rather than create numerous air-borne fibres during removal. As a general rule it is also the smallest fibres which are the most deadly. In fact the ones you can see in the air, probably aren't all that dangerous -- its the millions of associated invisible ones you can see that are the problem.

Tests at Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry average concentrations of asbestos-containing dust were 4.64 to 44 million particles per cubic foot, and the latest standard for insulation workers at one time allowed concentration up to 5 MPPCF (million particles per cubic foot)

The health consequences of breathing asbestos dust were exposed over a long period of time, but ignored until Irving J Selikoff and E Cuyler Hammond both refused to be intimidated by the industry and continued to lobby for drastic health measures. Hammond was also a major figure in the fight against tobacco. And from the viewpoint of the tobacco industry, eventually the asbestos industry became an ally because it also had political clout on a global scale and could be relied on to bribe the right think-tanks and scientists.

Documents & TimeLines

Major date References: [OC} = Occupational Carcinogenisis, a history of occupational health written by Richard A Lemens of Uni of Chicago in 1977 for Philip Morris [2] [Fortune] = Fortune magazine article (1979 May 7) [3]

1898 Henry Ward Johns, founder of the Johns-Manville Corp. died from a chronic lung condition that doctors now believe was asbestosis. [4]

1907 (?) Murray reported an association of fatal fibrorsis of the lungs with exposure to asbestos. [Ref OC]

1930's Irving J Selikoff, the great crusader against asbestos, said that the experts in occupational disease knew about asbestosis in the early 30s, but "Expert knowledge is different from common knowledge." However it was on the currriculum of medical schools from about 1960.

1932 The first published report on asbestosis in insulation workers appears in the US medical literature.

1932-50 /E Occasional reports in American and British medical journals about disease among both manufacturing and insulation workers. These were largely ignored and no epidemiological study was done.

1935 Lynch and Smith in the United States and Gloyne in the UK reported an excess of lung cancer among asbestos workers. [Ref OC]

1935 Robert C Page [late rthe medical director at Standard Oil in New Jersey] authored "A Study of the Sputum in Pulmonary Absestosis" (Am J Med Sci 1935) the first publication in the US in which asbestosis was reported in a clerical worker in an asbestos factory. The diagnosis was confirmed at autopsy. [See Google Books]

[The American Petroleum Institute had committees that dealt with health hazards -- the Medical Advisory committee (MAC) was formed in 1945 and it dealt with asbestos, which was the "mineral wool" used in oil drilling "muds", and asbestos insulation used in refineries.
Shell purchased asbestos fibre from Union Carbide [See Google Books]

1935 In "State of the Medical Art": Motley says that asbestosis was a clearly definable disease in the USA at this time. [5]

1939 The US government was aware of the health hazards of asbestos.

1940-45 World War II shipyard workers make extensive use of asbestos insulation on naval ships as the preferred form of fireproof lagging. This also leads to the Navy sailors suffering from showers of asbestos whenever the guns are fired. Most of the sailors also smoked. This led to later attempts to get both asbestos and tobacco companies funding payments in lieu of future lawsuits. Shipyards at this time employed (1940) 168,000 workers to (1943) 1.5 million. There were 700 fatal accidents in the shipyards in 1943 -- safety wasn't a priority.

1943 The US Navy and the Maritime Commission recognised the risk to insulation workers from the high dusk levels. They published a booklet "Minimal Requirements for Safety and Industrial Health in Contract Shipyards" which noted that asbestosis was a disease that could arise from "any job in which asbestos is breathed" and listed such tasks as sawing, cutting, or handling asbestos or asbestos mixtures."

1946 Four Government consultants conducted a study of shipyard insulation workers, and failed to show any significant evidence of disease. This became the study relied on by the asbestos companies in later courtroom battles until Selikoff's study in 1964. This was the Fleischer-Drinker survey report of four navy yards; they decided that the existing 5 million fibres per cubic foot was not dangerous for pipe coverers or laggers. These were not considered hazardous trades.

1947 Johns-Manville signed the first of a series of policies with Travellers Corp (public liability insurance) which it would hold for 30 years. Aggregated coverage under the polities is $16 million with $5,000 deductible for each claim. It also took out a backup coverage with other insurers.

1950-60 In this decade Johns-Manville was quietly paying compensation to its own workers. It had a division which had hire crews of insulation installers in the 1930 and the compensation boards had entered judgements against them in the 1950s. So by this time it was accepted in the industry that inhalation of asbestos dust would lead to pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer.

1952 Lorillard introduced the Kent Micronite filter tip, made with treated asbestos and crepe paper. They had discovered that asbestos was being used to screen out radioactive dust in atomic powers plants, and testing showed that if would substantially reduce the smoke-solids in mainstream smoke. This was a top-secret project.

A later (internal) interview of some Lorillard executives recorded the history of the Micronite asbestos filter.[6]

1953 Lorillard is so confident of the market value of its new filter that it began "an intensive program of planned propaganda intent on tying in cigarettes with lung-cancer (and offering Kent Micronite as the solution). Lorillard's sales went up 13% in 1953 despite industry fall-off, and Americans became highly filter conscious. Then they raised the price of Kent and sales dropped off. They then introduced a King size in July 1954. [7]

1955 [In the early '50s] John Knox, the medical director of a leading British asbestos company, approached Richard Doll for help with statistical analysis of mortality of company workers. They died at a much higher rate than the general population. [Doll later exposed the cigarette business also]

When it was realised how high this mortality rate was, the company told Knox to cease work and not publish. But Doll insisted and submitted an article to the British Journal of Industrial Medicine with himself as sole author. This broke the decade-long attempt by the international asbestos industry to suppress the link with lung cancer. Before this epidemiological study there were only case reports. [See Google Books]

1957 Apr Lorillard hastily abandoned asbestos filters and the Kent cigarette received a new cellulose filter tip.

1959 "When Dr Wagner presented his paper at the Johannesburg 1959 Conference on the Pneumoconioses, a clear warning bell [was sounded] with respect to an additional hazard -- the non-occupational exposure creating mesothelioma.' [State of the Medical Art by Motley] [8] This was the first recognition that mesothelioma could come from environmental contact by relatives of asbestos workers or just to those who lived in the neighborhood of an asbestos mill. [9]

1963 Dr T Manscuso and Dr HL Stewart organised a small planning group in an international approach to cancers, Approached and reported to Dr J Higginson, Chairman of Geographical section of the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) [Later he headed the World Health Organisation]. Through its Committee on Geographical Pathology, the UICC was co-ordinating an international study (on asbestos??) from 1964. Each of the groups working at the Medical Research Council Pneumoconiosis Unit, Penarth UK were playing a leading part.

1963 Feb 8 The notorious 'FJ 'Jack' Solon, Jr has been named vice president and director of advertising and public relations for Johns-Manville Corporation. Mr. Solon was former president of Solon Associates, Inc., an advertising and public relations firm that handled the Johns-Manville Fiber Glass Division account. [10]

1964 Oct Irving J Selikoff, of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. released details of a study showing unambiguously that asbestos was deadly. A landmark conference on asbestos dangers at the City University of New York, was held by the New York Academy of Sciences (organised by Selikoff) The Biological Effects of Asbestos. It was threatened with a lawsuit by the asbestos industry. Johns-Manville asbestos products began to carry warning labels that a later court held "failed to communicate the seriousness of the risks"

1964 Feb Tobacco consultant Francis JC Roe who is working both for the Tobacco Research Council (TRC) and with the Institute for Cancer Research (ICR) - and is advising the tobacco industry. He is setting up supposedly independent 'inhalation' operations for the TRC at the Sutton laboratories of the ICR. (as an alternate to the TRC's lab at Harrowgate) He is proposing to run projects at both with a shared animal house.

He is advising the tobacco industry about the problems of asbestos with lung-cancer and mesothelioma. He had attended a meeting of the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and he says

About two years ago it had been suggested that asbestos fibres were possibly an important factor in increasing lung cancer, and particularly peripheral lung cancer and mesothelioma. Medical Offices of Health had therefore been asked to look more carefully for lung tumours arising in people exposed occupationally to asbestos, and sufficiently large numbers of cases of this nature had since ben found to warrant the holding of this special meeting.

Apparently lung cancer is associated in two ways with asbestos:

  1. Apparently about 50% of people suffering from asbestosis developed lung cancer
  2. People in occupations using asbestos have been found to a significant extent to be suffering from mesothelioma.

The whole subject was still very confidential but was likely to be of considerable importance in the future and he suggests that the tobacco manufacturers would be well advised to check that there was no chance of asbestos fibres entering the product -- e.g. used in filters. [11]

[Roe also tells them that "epidemiological evidence showed clearly that cigarette smoke caused lung cancer" ... but he didn't think animal testing would reveal which component in the smoke caused the problem. His own mouse skin-painting with smoke condensates was producing skin cancers. {Report by Geoffrey Todd]

1966 Johns Manville were in full denial that asbestos caused disease.

1968 The twelve-fibre standard introduced [12 fibres greater than 5 microns in length, every cubic centimeter of air.] has been introduced

1968 82 Most dramatic example of mass toxic torts First lawsuit brought against the Manville Corp in 1968 Since then (until Aug 1987) 35,000 bodily injury claims made to 1982 $1 billion spent on compensation and litigate expenses Future estimates $4 to 87 billion >>>???

1968 Annual Report of Johns-Manville still has McKinney, Kotin and Solon

1968 Dresden conference of UICC and NY Academy of Sciences people. Later handed over to the IARC. Research program agreed. The Medical Research Council Pneumoconiosis Unit, Penarth UK did much of the work.

1968 Nov 7 The Wall Street Journal report:Medical Researchers Study Role of Asbestos as Cause of Ailments

Johns-Manville Corp. the largest company in the field, last month announced it was entering a joint asbestos safely effort wlth the U.S. Public Health servlce, the AFL-CIO International Association of Heat and Frost Insulation and Asbestos Workers, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine of City University of New York.

The main aim is to develop improved metheds for reducing the exposure to asbestos dust of the estimated 200.000 workers in the industry.

But the scope of the research project could turn out to be broader. "If asbestos in the air is found to be generally harmful, we will want to protect the public from it, too," says Faustin J Solon Jr. a Johns-Manville vice president. The company adds that, one new device being planned, is a sprayer that won't unloose an asbestos-particle snowstorm when used out of doors on construction jobs.

The article quotes Selikoff as saying that most asbestos workers have asbestosis; and that 1 in 10 gets mesothelioma; and that cigarette smokers have lung cancer 92 times that of non-smokers (compared with 12 times for non-asbestos workers).

The most chilling statistic is that asbestos workers who are cigarette smokers have been found to die of all types of lung cancer at a rate 92 times that of non-smokers in the general population. By comparison, smokers who aren't asbestos workers die of lung cancer at a rate 12 times that of non-smokers.

The key, they say is in reducting the amount of dust generated by equipment and procceses that applies asbestos. It quotes tobacco researcher E Cuyler Hammond as saying: "I think we can lick this one." [12]

1969 Johns Manville paid out nearly $900,000 in workman's compensation in New Jersey for asbestosis alone, over and above what it may have settle out of court i litigation brought against it by workers or families of workers. By then Dr Selikof and Dr Hammond were piling proof upon prooof and JM saw the writing on te wall.

1969 The standard for occupational exposure was changed from 5 million particles per cubic foot. This was for third-parties insulation workers, shipyard workers. [Motley says 5 million particles total of dust -- not necessarily asbestos]

1968 The twelve-fibre standard introduced into Europe (??) [12 fibres greater than 5 microns in length, for every cubic centimeter of air.]

1969 Johns Manville paid out nearly $900,000 in workman's compensation in New Jersey for asbestosis alone, -- this was over and above what it may have settle out of court in litigation brought against it by workers or families of workers. By then Dr Selikof and Dr Hammond were piling proof upon prooof and J-M saw the writing on the wall. [13]

1970 The International Agency on Research into Cancer (IARC) program on asbestos was expanded. In the USA, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act which authorised the Secretary of Labor to promulgate mandatory standards for exposure to toxic materials.

1970 May 21 "The Cancer Program" report. Kenneth M Lynch is winding up a long-terms study of asbestos inhalation (alone or with other factors) by dogs. It was aimed at determining whether lung cancers would be produced. While there is much indirect evidence that abestos dust may be carcinogenic in man, these particular dog experiments have been negative in result. [14]

1971 Dec Under pressure from the AFL-CIO, partly as a result of disclosures made by Dr William M Johnson and Dr Joseph K Wagoner from the Division of Field Studies and Clincal Investigation, at HEW's NIOSH (who had discovered data long buried in the files of their predecessor (Carrell)). The Secretary of Labor James D Hodgson announced a new "temporary standard of 5 fibres greater than 5 microns in length, every cubic centimeter of air" [A 2 fibre standard was recommended by Selikoff and Hammond] [15]

1971 Dec 27 Here's how not to act if your industry comes under schientific attack. William Weiss article on asbestos seen as an object lesson for the tobacco industry. He is seen as an researcher and crusader promoting workplace smoking bans, [ Dr William Weiss Clinical Director, Pulmonary Disease Service, Philadelphia General Hospital,] [16]

1972 Mar Public hearings took place in Washington, D.C., which provided a confrontation between those members of the independent medical and scientific community who had been studying the hazards of asbestos and members of the medical-industrial complex who were wholly or partly supported by the asbestos industry. On the one hand, the independent medical and scientific community strongly endorsed a recommendation, made to the Secretary of Labor hy the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that the permanent standard for occupational exposure to asbestos be set at two fihres per cubic centimetre—a level that had also been recommended to Secretary Hodgson by the Advisory Committee on the Asbestos Standard, which was made up of five men chosen hy the Secretary himself.

On the other hand, the major asbestos companies, led by the giant Johns-Manville Corporation, presented testimony at the hearings which purported to show that the five-fibre standard would prevent disease, and put forth economic statistics to demonstrate that the cost of meeting a two-fibre standard would drive them out of business.

1972 June 6 Secretary Hodgson (Ass,Sec of Labor) and George C Guenther (A\Dir OSHA) announced a long-awaited permanent standard for asbestos - the two-fibre standard, with the five-fibre to remain in effect for four more years. [two years longer than anyone recommended] Guenther claimed that Irving Selikoff had chosen to "over-dramatise the matter"

1972 Oct 2 - 6 Lyon IARC Working Conference on Asbestos. The tobacco industry sent observers:, Matt Swetonic and SF McCullagh were all there from Philip Moris. Faustin J Solon ('jack') who was Johns-Manville's vice president of public relations also attended, as did R Marsh, President of the Asbestos Information Center. Many of the tobacco industry's 'consultants' also worked for the asbestos industry. [

1972 Oct 16 Leonard Zahn reports to Faustin J Solon at Johns Manville on the Selikoff press-conference/announcement.

"Being in an beneficent mood and also irritated at the obvious manipulation of the press by Selikoff et al, I tried to reach Matt Swetonic to inform him about the impact I knew would result from Selikoff's charges, Failing to get him, I called you and ended up talking with Walter Goodwin in your department.

This carbon copy has been sent to the Council for Tobacco Research. [17]

[Clearly the tobacco industry and the asbestos industry were collaborating at this time and sharing corrupt scientist and lobbyists like Leonard Zahn, who specialised in reporting on scientific meetings.]

1973US Court of Appeals (Fifth Circuit) upheld a jury verdict in favour of an insulation worker who had contracted asbestosis and mesothelioma after working with asbestos from 1936-1969. They held that the injury to the plaintiff "was foreseeable to the defendants at the time the products causing his injuries were sold"

1973 Jan 21 New York Times magazine article:"Asbestos, the saver of lives, has a deadly side."

To some high officials at the U.S. Department of Labor and to many high officials in the asbestos industry, these two doctors and their colleagues represent a kind of reform plague. Indeed, Selikoff is seen by some leaders of the asbestos industry as a cruel showman. Faustin J Solon Jr., vice-president for environmental affairs of Johns-Manville Corp., the nation's largest producer of asbestos, says, "To terrorize people who worked in shipyards 30 years ago, and now can't do a God-damned. thing about it —that's something 1 couldn't square with my conscience." [18]

1973 Spray on asbestos materials were used in schools and many buildings for insulation, fireproofing, noise control and decoration until 1973. This resulted in the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on Dec 21 1976 submitting a citizens petition to EPA to introduce a program of prevention and removal. In a survey of 6000 schools, 16% had asbestos materials and they found that 8 million teenagers smoke. [19]

1973 IARC Review published "Biological Effects of Asbestos

1973 Nov 26 The New Yorker article by Paul Brodeur "Casualties of the Workplace"

Furnished with incontrovertible evidence that industrial disease was rampant in the United States, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, authorizing the Secretary of Labor to promulgate mandatory standards for exposure to toxic materials, so that no employee would suffer diminished health or life expectancy as a result of his work experience.

This was a considerable undertaking, since American workers being exposed to thousands of substances, and since federal standards, often inadequate, existed for fewer than four hundred and fifty of them. Of all the industrial hazards, none been studied more thoroughly or had been proved to be more critical than occupational exposure to asbestos.

[snip] Since the new ruling would permit workers exposed to asbestos t» inhale and retain in their lungs as many as thirty million asbestos fibres of all sizes in a working day, it was considered grossly inadequate by almost everyone who had been studying the effects of exposure to the mineral. Indeed, during the previous six months, a two-fibre standard had been urged upon Secretary Hodgson as a minimum requirement by Dr. Selikoff and other members of the independent medical and scientific community.

Reports were given to President Nixon by HEW and NIOSH.

In appendixes to Richardson's report, there were long lists of contracts and grants that had been awarded by NlOSH to various universities, medical schools, corporations, and research institutes for studies relating to occupational safety and health. Among them were two grants and one contract, totalling more than a $146,000, that had been awarded to the Industrial Health Foundation, Inc., in Pittsburgh, and to Dr. Paul M Gross, the director of the foundation's research laboratories, for studies relating to asbestos disease. (Also chemistry at Duke University, PHS and AAAS)[20] [21]

As it happened, Dr. Gross had testified for Johns-Manville in at least one workmen's-compensation case, and the Industrial Health Foundation, Inc, was none other than the old Industrial Hygiene Foundation of America Inc, the self-styled association of industries for the advancement of healthful working conditions, which was hired by Pittsburgh Corning in the summer of 1963 to evaluate the asbestos-dust hazard at its plant, then newly acquired, in Tyler.

Moreover, NlOSH's project officer for a contract under which more than $48,000 had been supplied up to that time was Dr. Lewis J. Cralley, who, when director of NlOSH's Division of Epidemiology and Special Services, had ignored the data showing excessive asbestos-dust counts at the Tyler plant.

One of the appendixes to Richardson's report also listed a contract for $48,976 which had been awarded to Arthur D. Little, Inc., of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to "develop a priority rating system and identify general areas and specific problems where fruitful and necessary research in occupational safety should be undertaken."

{snip] No one seems to know what the Arthur D. Little people had in mind in all this, but the possibility that they felt the need to achieve some semblance of balance and impartialitv in their panel of health experts presents itself to anyone examining the roster of eleven men listed as its members.

In the order in which their names appeared, they were

  • Dr. Edward A Gaensler, professor of surgery and director of thoracic services at Boston University's Medical Center, who has made useful contributions to the study of asbestos disease, and who has also been retained by Johns-Mainille to examine workers at its asbestos-wallboard plant in Billerica, Massachusetts;
  • Dr. Thomas H Davison, medical director of Johns-Manville;
  • Dr. J Corbett McDonald, the chairman o[ the Department of Epidemiologv and Health of McGill University, in Montreal, and the author of a study entitled "Mortality in the Chrysotile Asbestos Mines and Mills of Quebec," which was financed by the Quebec Asbestos Mining Association, of which Johns-Manville is a leading member;
  • Dr Lewis J Cralley, the former director of the Division of Epidemiology and Special Services
  • Howard E Ayer, the former director of the division
  • Dr George W Wright, head of medical research at St Luke's Hospital in Cleveland and a long time paid consultant to J-M who testified for the corporation in Congress.
  • Dr Hans Weill, Prof of Medicine at Tulane Uni, School of Medicine (financially supported by Quebec Asbestos Mining Association
  • Dr W Clark Cooper, former head of the old Bureau of Occupational Safety and Health and a partner in Tabershaw Cooper Associates, ic, a consulting firm in Berkeley which had done research contracts for National Insulation Man. Assoc and Pittsburgh Corning
  • Dr Philip E Enterline, Prof of Biostatistics, Uni of Pittsburge who was retained by Johns Manville to study retired employees
  • Commander Samuel H Barbon, Medical Services Corp of US Navy.
  • Dr Irving J Selikoff (the lone whistleblower on asbestos).[22]

1974 Jul Robert James Killen began working at the Redwood Medical Clinic in July 1974. He was a private medical contractor for John-Manville (their new safety trainer), and his duties included:

  • reviewing a 5-page health questionnaire with J-M employees
  • explaining the contents of a booklet in conjunction with the smoking section of the questionnaire,
  • explaining the use of respirators and ear plugs.
  • [He] explained to applicants that smoking was dangerous to their health and asbestos could be dangerous. [23]

1975 /E Insurance companies stopped writing new coverage for asbestos companies.

1976 July 1 The date on which the two-fibre level 'permanent' standard was to become effective. Until then it had remained the five-fibre 'temporary' standard [24]

1977 In Occupational Carcinogenisis, a private history of occupational health written by Richard A Lemens of Uni of Chicago for Philip Morris. He says:

Seventy-five years after asbestos was know to cause fatal fibrosis of the lungs and almost fifty years since it was known to be a potent cause of lung cancer, workers in dozens of asbestos factories and hundreds of asbestos-related trades in the US are laboring in concentrations of asbestos dust of sufficient magnitude to obscure the light. As a result, of one million current and former American asbestos workers who still survive, fully three hundred thousand can be projected to die of cancer. Indeed one if five of these men can be expected to develop cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, and another one in twenty of malignant mesothelioma, an always fatal tumour of the pleura and peritoneum.[25]

[From the biro-additions made by readers of this report, it can be assumed that Philip Morris staff were looking for other environmental toxins to blame for lung-cancer]

1977 Travellers Corp refused to renew its policy with Johns-Manville.

1977 Labor Day: W Richard Goodwin of Johns-Manville was ousted in a Board room coup and replaced by Navy guy, John A McKinney.

1977 May Newsletter report Dr Kotin says smoking more important than occupation in lung cancer: He was Senior VP for Health, safety and environment of Johns Manville at time and a former Director of NIEHS He made a statement in Denver, addressing the National Commission on Smoking and Public Policy - where he claimed tobacco was culprit, not asbestos -- also coke mining etc. (specific to pulmonary obstructive disease)

[However asbestos workers who smoked have 90 times the lung-cancer rate of nonsmokers] [26]

1977 Johns-Manville Annual Report. Net earnings were more than double 1976 level, Total J-M sales and earnings reached record levels. They are moving into fibre-glass

  • John A McKinney, President and CEO
  • Faustin J Solon Jr was Vice President of Corporte Relations
  • Paul Kotin, MD Senior Vice President, Health Safety and Environment.
  • William Paul MD appointed Corporate Medical Director

    J-M Continues Commitment to Health, Safety and Environment

J-M s continuing commitment to protect the physical well-being of employees and the general. public made several advances in 1977.
A "No Smoking" policy, first developed in 1976-was implemented at three company locations where asbestos is handled. Additional U.S. plants will join the program by year-end.
The basis of the policy is research showing that asbestos workers who smoke have a 92 times greater chance of developing lung cancer than those who do not smoke, whereas asbestos workers who do not smoke have no greater risk of lung cancer than the general non-smoking public . [27]
[The asbestos industry now began to openly attack the smoking industry as the primary cause of lung-cancers]

1977 May 22 The Occupational Health and Safety Letter carries a headline article Dr Kotin Says Smoking More Important Than Occupation in Lung Cancer

If workers exposed to such chemical or physical carcinogens as uranium mining, asbestos, coke ovens, chromates, and nickel did not smoke "lung cancer in these occupational groups would virtually disappear as a hazard of the workplace."

Dr Kotin (is now) senior vice president for health, safety and environment of Johns-Manville, and the former Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIOSH)...

[snip} Cigarette smoking is, in reality, a determinant for most of these cancers as well as for an array of lung abnormalities grouped under the generic term, 'chronic obstructive pulmonary disease'.[28]

1978 Dr Jerrold Abraham has sent this monograph to RJ Reynolds.

" The Lung" was a publication of the International Academy of Pathologists. Abraham's chapter (6) was "Recent Advances in Pneumoconiosis: The Pathologists's role in Etiologic Diagnosis" (Supported by a grant from the US Public Health Service) He is mainly concerned with asbestos, beryllium and similar mining-type diseases.

There is no question that the risk of carcinoma of the lung associated with exposure to asbestos in persons smoking cigarettes is increased several fold over the risk in smokers not exposed to asbestos. The nonsmoker exposed to asbestos has not yet been conclusively shown to be at increased risk for carcinoma of the lung (although smoking does not seem to be involved in the pathogenesis of mesothelioma)." The difficulty in collecting a large enough series of non- smokers, especially of finding nonsmokers with lung cancer, regardless of asbestos exposure, probably accounts for most of the remaining dispute among epidemiol- ogists. http://[]

1978 The First Draft of a long "White Paper. Smoking & Health: The Untold Story"]

Recently a Congresswoman from New Jersey introduced federal legislation to enact a special tax on both asbestos and cigarettes. The tax would be used to compensate asbestos workers or their survivors when those workers have been afflicted by respiratory disease.

In the Congresswoman's district is Johns-Manville Co., one of the world's largest asbestos companies. Her legislation, it was discovered, was drafted by Johns-Manville lawyers.

As the number of suspected carcinogens has grown, the number of those with a vested interested in the anti-cigarette ritual has grown apace. More than 600 worker's compensation cases are pending against Johns-Manville. (The company has already paid several.) More than a million workers have been directly exposed to asbestos and other carcinogens in their occupations. Attempts to spread or divert the blame by exploiting the notions against cigarettes is understandable, though deplorable. [29]

1978 Johns Manville'd Annual Report now attacks the media and tries to blame smoking and "over-exposure" as if these were the primary culprits. (The 'over-exposure' claim was an attempt to implant in public consciousness that a little bit of asbestos did no harm.)

Also, the media had opportunities over a long period of years to assist in helping to protect the health of those over-exposed to asbestos by emphasizing the dramatic adverse impact and direct connection of smoking to lung cancer. However, they either remained silent or presented data in a manner that would soften its impact.

Our analysis of the asbestos health problem results in these conclusions:

  1. For asbestos diseases, the higher the level and the longer the periods of exposure, the greater the health effect.
  2. Measures introduced by J-M and by much of the industry to reduce exposures have been effective in reducing the incidence of disease.
  3. Adherence to present standards for the safe handling of asbestos products will prevent asbestos related disease and, in time, eliminate the disease from the work place.
  4. There is not and never has been any hazard to the general public from the processing or use of asbestos products.

We deeply regret that many people are currently suffering the effects of having years ago inhaled an excessive amount of asbestos fiber.

Cigarette smokers have been especially at risk. However, there is nothing to be gained by witch hunts to determine fault where none exists. Industry, cigarette manufacturers, government, the medical profession, labor, the scientific and academic communities, and the media are all involved .

Later in the report it accuses the media of continuing to sensationalize coverage of lawsuits and government hearings -- and of seeking a 'scapegoat'.

It is now known that excessive inhalation of asbestos fiber can, over a period of time, cause or contribute to occupational disease. Asbestos related disease does exist; thus, it is perhaps understandable that people would cast about for an "asbestos scapegoat." What is inexcusable is the manner in which many lawyers, the media, and even some in the "public interest" arena have sought to exploit the tragedy of asbestos-related disease through the repetition of inaccuracies, half-truths and exaggerations.

While some of the untruths presented by the media and others may be from lack of facts, which in itself is inexcusable, far more often they have resulted from a deliberate distortion in the face of facts and out of a very apparent anti-business bias.

One can but wonder why federal regulatory agencies have made no move to prohibit cigarette smoking among those occupationally exposed to asbestos. J-M has adopted such a non-smoking policy, and amazingly, some of the very same parties who attack J-M for alleged failures to protect employees are now criticizing us for restricting a worker's freedom to smoke. Frankly, it is inconceivable and intellectually dishonest for those who cry cover-up and negligence to ignore the role of cigarette smoking in causing cancer.

Cigarette smokers have been especially hard hit.However, there is nothing to be gained by witch hunts to determine fault where none exists. Industry, cigarette manufacturers, government, the medical profession, labor, the scientific and academic communities and the media are all involved. [30]

[Note: This carefully-crafted spiel would have been written by Faustin J Solon]

1978 Settlement of 250 different cases in this year were at an average cost to Johns-Manville of $15,000 -- with up to ten defendant companies sharing the total burden, which will often be as high as $100,000 per case. The medical director of J-M was Dr Paul Kotin. Kotin was a pathologist who also worked extensively for the tobacco industry between 1954 and 1977, serving on the advisory boards of the TIRC (Tobacco Industry Research Council) and its pseudo-research funder CTR (Council for Tobacco Research). Later he was on the American Medical Associations ERF committee (AMA-ERF) which had a highly dubious reputation for taking tobacco money and doing as little research as possible.

J-M's corporate medical director (1952-66) Dr Kenneth Wallace Smith had sworn two depositions before his death. He said J-M executives and lawyers had known as early as 1952 that the insulation workers were exposed to the same potential hazards as manufacturing workers. He said his recommendations to provide warning labels were turned down. [31]

1978 Fears about asbestos intensified in the USA in1978 with what was labelled "journalistic fever.

Seldom have we read a calm and common sense approach to the situation, such as the relatively inexpensive and quick application of an effective sealant to the asbestos sprayed ceiling. This, in many instances, would solve the problem. What we are noting is that panic has spread throughout the nation [and] the result is closed schools and the unexpected outlay of large sums of tax money for air sampling, ceiling removal and disposal, and the purchase and installation of new materials [32]

1978 May 1US Department of Labor (OSHA) hearing on toxic substances in the workplace. Henry Waxman in the US House of Reps, quoted Califano (at HEW) on occupational exposure to asbestos. He says that

  • 20 to 25% of all workers exposed to asbestos will die of lung-cancer.
  • One fifth with contract asbestosis or mesothelioma.
  • Asbestos workers who smoke, have a risk of lung cancer 90 times than general population. *
  • There are a million former and present asbestos workers. [33]

1978 May 16 Giving evidence for the Asbestos Information Association. are: Harrison B Rhodes, and RH Mereness, Executive Director. [34] There was also an Asbestos International Association based in London UK (headed by Alex A Cross) -- this would have been the global industry organisations set up to disseminate knowledge and act as global PR for the industry.] One notable speaker for the AIA was J Corbett McDonald a professional denier from the Canadian asbestos industry (and McGill University)who later helped organise the Heidelberg Appeal.

1978 Jun 21-30 New York Academy of Sciences (Science Week) has organised a conference: "The Scientific Basis for the Public Control of Environmental Health Hazards." The section on asbestos was organised by E Cuyler Hammond, John A Moore (ex EPA Dir.), William J Nicholson (Mount Sinai School of Med), and Irving J Selikoff (Mount Sinai School of Med). [35]

1978 Jul 14 A Tobacco Institute Report records their successes and failures of campaigns against smoking bans. With reference to Waukengan, Illinois, it says:

Employees at Johns-Manville Corporation asbestos facility are prohibited from smoking on the job after this date. [36]

1978 Sep /E During Congressional hearings on asbestos, the price of Johns-Manville stock plunged about 20%. Recent decisions by judges had shown that the companies could now be seen as liable to punitive damages also. They had failed to use real warning labels until many years after they had direct knowledge of the hazard.

1978 Nov Report on an exposure symposium on asbestos reveals the general state of knowledge in this period -- and the payment of workers compensation in the USA, etc. [37]

1979 Jan 10 The Tobacco institute releases a pre-emptive attack on the Surgeon General's Report "The Cigarette Controversy" (And a counter to the asbestos industry claims)

Claims that asbestos workers who smoke do have an increased risk of developing lung cancer were made in a 1968 report. That study, by Drs. Irving Selikoff and Jacob Churg of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and E.Cuyler Hammond of the American Cancer Society, was the first to take smoking into account. [Snip] The. risk of lung cancer in nonsmoking asbestos workers was discussed recently. Speaking at a conference on pollutants and high risk groups, OSHA's director of carcinogen identification and classification said last June that recent studies indicate a five- to 15-fold excess risk of lung cancer in asbestos workers who do not smoke. Any conclusion that it is the smoking which is responsible for the reported increased risk of lung cancer in the smoking asbestos.worker is not justified on the basis of available evidence. [38]

1979 May J-M was lobbying Representative Millicent Fenwick who has created a 'White-lung" bill which would establish an asbestos-compensation system patterned after the coal miner's black-lung program, which is jointly funded by the miners and the government. This would let the asbestos companies off the hook for part of the settlements, and potentially settle tens of thousands of cases.

This became a bill to compensate: Relationship of Smoking and Asbestos - with hearings on Asbestos-Related Diseases by a House Subcommittee on Labor Standards [39]

1979 May 7Fortune magazine article on asbestos problems. At this time, despite the problems, asbestos still accounted for 19% of Johns-Manvilles operating income. [40]

1979 Jun 5 The Tobacco Institute newsletter reports;

JOHNS-MANVILLE Corp. may try to make the federal govt. and tobacco companies co-defendants in any suits brought against it by workers exposed to asbestos, the Washington Post said. The company's. annual report is also critical of news coverage that "fails to note that many workers who have developed health problems are smokers, and that many nonsmokers haven't had problems," the Wall Street Journal reported. [41]

1979 Jul 28 Speech by the Hon George Miller of California, in House of Reps on occupational and environmental health, and the asbestos coverup. He made claims that:

  • By mid-1930s, medical doctors in the asbestos industry had advised the companies to "distribute asbestos information among the medical community, providing it is of the right type and world not injure our companies"
  • Early in the 1950s the medical director of one of the major companies recommended that a warning label be placed on asbestos. His advice was rejected.
  • Dr. Kenneth Smith of Johns-Manville recommended that the Asbestos Textile Institute fund a study of the correlation of asbestos exposure in non-primary workers and lung cancer. His recommendation was rejected. among other reasons, because ATI feared that it would "stir up a hornet's nest."
  • Well before the Selikoff's study in 1964, link with lung-cancer were being discussed in the trade (during in the mid-1940s).
  • Late last summer (mid-1978) there was a discussion among the members of European Advisory Committee of the Asbestos International Association at which corporate representatives discussed ways to minimize hazard warning lables on asbestos products shipped to the European continent because --

    "A label would put the continental industry in a difficult position.. (There are) countries where it was felt it was still too early to start voluntary labelling, in the fear of a possible negative influence on sales.] [42]

In the early 1970s, the CEO of Johns Manville said that "there had not been a single instance in which a jury or trial judge has awarded punitive damages against any asbestos company." Ten years after making that statement, Johns Manville, Owens Corning, and 60 related companies were bankrupt because of the avalanche of punitive-damage payouts that cascaded like coins from a broken slot machine. Suits totaling $275 billion already have been settled, and there are still 600,000 asbestos-related lawsuits in the courts, leaving companies with an estimated $200 billion in additional exposure. What's more, a recent Supreme Court ruling declared that those exposed to asbestos no longer have to wait to get sick to collect damages. They now can collect based on the fear that they may develop asbestos-related diseases someday.

1979 Oct. Ronald L Motley, an aggressive plaintiff lawyer has begun to take action over 'Asbestos Exposure in US Shipyards'. This is his speech at a Texas seminar. [43]

[Ronald Motley (Ness Motley Loadholt Richardson & Pool) was also the key lawyer in the final settlement agreement with the tobacco companies. His name was anathema to the tobacco industry: He became the plaintiff laywer in secondhand smoking cases against Philip Morris and Liggett Group; counsel to the New Orleans-based Castano class action; and he represented the states of West Virginia and Missisippi in their attempts to recover state money spent treating smoking related illnesses.]

1979 Oct 11 The Commission of the European Communities is raising question about the extent of use and dangers of asbestos [44]

1979 Nov A Tobacco Industry briefing document says:

What interest do other industries have in attacking cigarette smoking?

Chemical companies and asbestos insulation manufacturers, for example, have sought to avoid criticism of their own introduction of toxic substances into the environment by putting the spotlight on the causation of disease by cigarette smoking.

They argue that cigarette smoking is the proper target for public policy measures because smoking is a habit which can be controlled, compared to the virtually unsolvable problem of cleaning up the environment. The chemical industry formed the American Industrial Health Council (The AIHC was run for the Chemical Manufacturer's Association by Elizabeth Whelan) , which resists proposed OSHA regulation of carcinogens in the work place by arguing that increases of cancer result from greater longevity and "pandemic smoking."

Johns-Manville Corp., a large asbestos mining and manufacturing business, has argued publicly that the real problem with asbestos exposure is cigarette smoking, which it claims increases by 92 times the risk that an asbestos worker who smokes will contract lung cancer. [45]

1979 Dec 18 William Shinn of Shook Hardy & Bacon advises Thomas Ahrensfeld, General Counsel of Philip Morris, that Carl Seltzer's editorial in the American Heart Journal will be published early in the new year.

You have already received a copy of the asbestos paper cleared by litigating lawyers for use by the (Tobacco) Institute. One of the items for discussion was the extent of use of the document.

I assume, having heard nothing contrary from Horace (Kornegay), that a discussion on the asbestos paper can be deferred until the next meeting of the committee. Horace had hoped to learn on December 1 whether or not the Institute could use the paper (the wording is cleared) and, if so, what the constraints on use were.

Mr. Northrip had planned to report on the asbestos litigation. [46]

1980 Jan 15 /E History of Asbestos Disease in the USA 1917-1979
This appears to be a transcript of a conference with both Langer and Selikoff with some other specialists. Also Fenner (a representative of Johns Manville.) [47]

[Note reference to when it was considered dangerous to 'users' -- also to the 'natural' fibre numbers in air]

There is an associated discussion on heart disease and asbestosis [48]

1980 Jun Report on Smoking and Health (Jan-June 1980) in Philip Morris files:

ASBESTOS SUITS: The asbestos industry has just lost a suit which awarded 1.2 million dollars general damages to a man who claimed he developed asbestosis. A Los Angeles Superior Court jury which made this award will meet to decide whether punitive damages should also be awarded.

In the defense, the lawyers for Johns-Mansville agreed that the plaintiff's lung trouble: resulted from 35 years of heavy smoking.

Comment. This may be the beginning of the courtfight to determine the legal aspects of "interaction" between smoking and occupation exposure to harmful materials. [49]

[The asbestos and cigarette industries only seem to have joined forces around 1990 to fight against product liability suits, especially class-actions and punitive damages.]

1980 Sep 19The Standard Asbestos Manufacturing and Insulating Co of Kansas Cty was suing the tobacco industry, charging that "smoking and not asbestos caused lung damage claimed by hundreds of asbestos workers". This was the first suit of this kind. [50]

1981 The Committee of Indoor Pollutants, National Research Council, report on indoor air. This was being done for the EPA on contract. It lists in details the components of indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Asbestos is a widespread component of the structural environment in schools, homes, and private and other public buildings. Its release in the indoor environment depends on the cohesiveness of the asbestos-containing material and the intensity of the disturbing force. Most contamination is episodic, activity-related, and local.

Fiber counts and mass concentrations of fibers have been measured and shown to exceed those outdoors, and on occasion they may approximate the occupational limit of 2 fibers per cubic centimeter. Fortunately, during normal use, buildings containing asbestos have not shown indoor fiber counts higher than outdoor counts. Current data are very limited and apply mostly to schools and a few office buildings, but it appears that the general public exposure to asbestos fibers is exceedingly low in public buildings.

A systematic and comprehensive survey of indoor asbestos fiber contamination is needed and will require reliable, portable, and continuous monitors. Asbestos control technologies have been applied in various indoor environments. Asbestos removal requires a complex protocol to be carefully applied, because the very activity of removal may cause severe asbestos contamination. See page 47 [51]

1981 "Widow files Suit, saying Asbestos Made Her Sick" She developed lung cancer from dust on clothing from her three sons and late husband's work with asbestos.

Most companies stopped distribution of hazardous asbestos products after the US Deparment of Labor's OSHA started regulating usage in the late 1970s. "She said one company blocked publication of an article about the dangers of asbestos.' [52]

1981 Mar 2 Business Insurance newspaper "Does Smoking Cloud Liability?"

In recent months, a second asbestos firm has sued lhe tobacco industry to force it to contribute to the defense of product liability claims against the firm. In olher cases, asbestos and textile firms are successfully denying somc smokers' claims of occupational disease.

On the other hand, the tobacco industry has never lusl a product liability lawsuit. Its suqcessful defense has been assumption of risk-smukers voluntarily use their products and should be aware of the inherent dangers in smoking cigarettes.

"Assumption of risk is so powerful a defense thal no one can recover damages when it is applied," said University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein. [53]

1981 Sep 10Notes of Meeting of Committee of General Counsel discussing the secret Special Projects #4 payments. Asbestos companies have been attacking tobacco and have prepared defenses that the plaintiff smoked. "They have a formidable array of witnesses and we need a large paralegal capability." [54]

1981 Sep 27 Press-Telegram article Asbestos time bomb ticking away.

Irving J Selikoff has pointed out that more than 13 million people were significantly exposed to asbestos at shipyards, power plants, construction sites and other industries since 1940. The industry was facing about 40,000 lawsuits.

Those textile mills were extremely dusty operations and people were exposed to a product that was almost 100 percent (asbestos) fiber ... It was felt it was limited to people who were heavily exposed. The companies also cite a Navy-sponsored study of shipyard workers in 1946 that found no significant health effects. The Navy, of course, had looked too soon. The fibers had not had time to do their damage.

Parker notes that the U.S. Public Health Service established in 1938 a voluntary workplace exposure limit of 5 m illion particles per cubic foot. The standard, now considered hopelessly lax, went unchallenged for more than 20 years.

Equally mystifying is the effect of cigirette smoking, which somehow combines with Asbesdos to produce a risk far beyond simple addition. Among all Americans, smokers are about 10 times as likely to get lung cancer as non-smokers. But for a smoker who works with asbestos, the risk is 90 times greater.

Smoking also seems involved with asbestosis, but has no known effect on the risk of mesothelioma.[55]

1981 Dec EHP article on asbestos in hair dryers. Voluntry removal. Page 6

[T]here are cities where the background level of asbestos is about 50 ng/m3, which is about 25 times the concentration you would get if you sat in a small room with a hair dryer and dried your hair every day. The question is, is there anything happening as a result of this urban exposure? He had estimated 50 cases per million exposed in large cities would get cancer from urban exposure, but there is no way to verify that estimate. Obviously the hair dryer risk is insignificant in comparison. [56]

1982 May 6 Article on an OSHA Asbestos and Smoking Research report [57] 1982 Jun History of the knowledge of asbestos Pt 1. [58]

1982 Aug Financial Times article: Johns-Manville (now called Manville Corporation) filed for Chapter 11 protection Then a week later, Turner & Newell (T&N the world largest producer) which operated in the UK and had Zimbarbwe mines, admitted problems, so litigation would get worse. They blamed a July TV program. J-M had disposed of 2000 law cases in US (shared with 20 other asbestos companies) but still had 1250 on the books. Johns-Manville naming other asbestos companies as co-defendents. Now British Asbestos Group was also in the red. Legal costs outweighed the settlements made to claimants. [59]

1982 Jun 16 Chicago Tribute reports that 12,000 law suits have been brought in US courts against the manaufactuers and industrial users of asbestos -- but that a complete ban was unlikely because of its widespread applications. It was headlined "Researchers see asbestos peril 'at all levels'" and subtitled "Smokers face greatest threat"

Present low levels of asbestos fibers permit in factory air under federal regulations may still not be low enough to prevent cancer or the lung-disease asbestosis, a medical journal said yesterday.

A study on the controversial question of the effects of asbestos on health published in today's New England Journal of Medicine said this was particularly true of workers who smoked cigarettes in an asbestos environment. It said these workers increased by 80 to 90 times their chances of contracting lung cancer compared to nonsmoking workers exposed to asbestos,

The study made by two doctors of the University of Vermont College of Medicine warned that, although the levels of permissible asbestos fibers in the air had been reduced over the years, doctors had to assume "there are no thresholds below which the disease fails to occur."

It gave some information about legal cases then continued:

The study was conducted by Dr John Craighead and Dr Brooke Mossman of the university's department of pathology. Reacting to mounting public fears over asbestos, the federal government in 1976 set permissable concentrations of asbestos dust at five fibers per cubic centimeter of air averaged over an eight-hour period. This figure has been twice cut since then to a tenth of that figure. The study said "The general public is exposed to small amounts of asbestos in drinking water, beverages, food, drugs and agricultural products. Potable water often contains mineral fibers that are presumably derived from geologic deposits and refuse dumps. [60]

1983 Draft propaganda speech by executive in-house lawyer Fred Newman of Philip Morris on the current state of smoking and health research.

A new era of cancer litigation against the tobacco companies has been opened up as a result of the desperate plight of asbestos companies and their insurers.

Asbestos producers have been swamped with thousands of claims totaling billions of dollars for asbestos-related diseases, including lung cancer. Several asbestos companies insured and defended by Commercial Union Insurance Co., have brought cross-claims against Philip Morris and other tobacco companies on the theory that the claimed asbestos-related disease was caused in whole or in part by cigarette smoke.

Most asbestos companies, including the majpr producers, have not brought actions against us yet. They prefer to defend the cases brought by a plaintiff who smoked by claiming that his injury was not caused by asbestos exposure, but instead by his smoking. Since the tobacco companies are not parties, this technique is known in the legal trade as "trying the empty chair."

In the relatively few cases where we have been sued, we have been successful in having the suits either dismissed or deferred on procedural grounds. However, the primary insurance coverage for the asbestos manufacturers is running out. The excess carriers, notably Commercial Union, have apparently made the policy decision that they will require their insured to forgo the empty chair defense and seek contributions from the tobacco companies.

A new development in asbestos is that the filing of bankruptcy petitions by Johns-Manville, the major producer, and other asbestos companies, has left many formerly properous defense lawyers suddenly with a lot of free time. This may lead to a revival of cancer suits against tobacco companies. The first of these suits was brought against us in January, in New Jersey, by the lawyers who once represented Manville. These lawyers have tried the case against smoking many times in defending asbestos cases.

Remember my reference to the "empty chair" - many juries have reduced awards to victims of asbestos exposure as a result of this argument.

The product liability laws are changing, and what might have been a legally sufficient defense a few years ago may not be one today. And Courts have begun to fashion new principles to provide compensation to injured persons without regard to the fault of the manufacturer. [61]

1985 Apr 15 Legal article on Asbestos from a seminar:

  • According to the United States Department of Education, 14,000 of the 36,000 schools in America contain friable asbestos (i.e., asbestos which can be dislodged because it is easily crumbled or pulverized)
  • September 1984, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania certified an "opt-out" class in a nationwide class action of school districts seeking compensatory damages for the costs of asbestos abatement.
  • An additional complicating factor in this litigation has been the bankruptcy proceeding of the Johns-Manville Corporation. This "brought to the fore" the need of potential plaintiffs to file their asbestos property damage claims, because all claims not filed by January 1985 are forever barred.
  • In August 1982, he said, there were perhaps six asbestos property damage cases filed in the United States [while] virtually all asbestos litigation was health litigation. [62]

1985 Jun /E (Second Quarter) Status Report of the RJR Smoking and Health Division.

IARC Monograph on Smoking and Health
. Dr Carol Henry of Microbiological Associates and Dr. Richard Kouri of International Biotechnologies. Inc. presented a synopsis of the recent meeting of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). A monograph. is being prepared on Smoking and Health under the chairmanship of Sir Richard Doll. A draft of 'the monograph is available through the Scientific Affairs Division.

Major eonclusions:

  1. the weight of epidemiological evidence; that smoking: causes cancer is overwhelming; and:
  2. an animal model does exist for determining cancer from tobacco smoke inhalation.
    Genetic polyrmorphism may also play a part in induction of cancer.
  3. Cigarette smoking is also synergistic with asbestos or radon daughters to increase the risk of lung cancer.
  4. cigarette smoking is causally related to malignant tumors of the bladder, renal pelvis, and possibly, pancreas

Compensation of Asbestos Exposed Indivuals.
A preliminary evaluation has been made of a study by Chase et al entitled "Evaluation for Compensation of Asbestos Exposed Individual. The study was published in the Journal of Occupational Medicine (Vol. 27 Nb. 3; March 1965. pp. 189-198). The paper attempts to provide a mechanism by which financial compensation can be apportioned. In addition; it puts forth the theory that smoking is the heaviest oontributor to lung cancer and that it is an initiator of tumorigenesis.
Asbestos, by oontrast, is claimed by these authors to be only a promoter. We do not concur with the view of the authors in this regard.[MORE]


1987 Aug Since the first claims bought against Johns-Manville in 1968 there had been 35,000 bodily injury claims made to this date. By 1982, a $1 billion had been spent on compensation and litigate expenses

1991 Oct The American Smoker's Alliance newspaper complains about the Environmental Protection Agency which it says is far too keen to regulate everything:

The EPA has a history of squandering money. In 10/91 the US Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to stop trying to ban asbestos on "flimsy" evidence. The EPA spent $230,000,000 on this project.

The Court ruling states that a ban on the three asbestos products would theoretially save 7 lives over a span of 13 years at a cost of up to $300 million. The number of deaths prevented by this ban would be half the deaths, over the same period, from toothpick accidents. [64]

1992 Jul 31 Vol 1 of EPA Watch report by Bonner Cohen on Mike Bennett's book (a friend) says that in the 1960s (late) Selikoff extrapolated from "the unique experience of shipyard workers [] eventually estimated that 40,000 excess deaths a year would be caused by asbestos. This was followed in the 1970s by a series of articles by Paul Brodeur in the New Yorker which promoted the idea that "one fibre can kill" [65]

1994 Nov 30In Western Australia (where most asbestos is mined) the lawfirm of Clayton Utz (headed by politician Julie Bishop as Managing Partner) worked both for asbestos and cigarette companies. Gary Berson her assistant provided the lobbying services for the tobacco industry, and he has written to Mary Weir, WD&HOWills.

He sends her an article where the State Government Insurance Commission (SGIC) says it has cost them $9m in legal fees over 7 years for the disputes betwen the CSR (the asbestos company) and cigarette companies -over asbestos litigation in the 1980s and "defending unwinnable cases". Cases were bogged down, People were dying without compensation. [66]

1995 $1.9 million is awarded to plaintiff in the Kent Micronite filter case, the second award ever in a liability case against a tobacco company. The suit concerned asbestos not tobacco.

1995 The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) which normally lobbies for any industry that donates, says that "mandated asbestos removal has provided no health benefit to the general public while engangering workers involved in its removal. [67]

1996 /E Tobacco Institute 'facts' and 'quotes' of use to Regional Directors.

The asbestos-related cases:

  • In 1979-1980, about 600 asbestos-related third party complaints were filed against cigarette companies. By 1982, all but a handful of these had been favorably resolved.
  • In 1982, the major asbestos maker Johns Manville filed for bankruptcy.
  • Ten asbestos suits were cross filed against tobacco companies in 1983. A new wave of 200 of these cross-filed suits surfaced in 1985.
  • California State Judge John E. Benson acted on Dec 13, 1985 to deny a GAF Corp. request that cigarette makers also be named as defendants in 201 asbestos suits. Benson criticized the GAF request as a delaying tactic.


1997 Sep 7A Proposed Statement of Position to the WhiteHouse by Brown & Williamson -- on the legacy of asbestos and smoking, It deals with the joint tobacco-asbestos problem, and the fact that 15 asbestos companies had already gone broke. [69]

1997 Sep 15 On this date a suit, Raymark Industries v. Brown & Williamson , was filed against RJ Reynolds Tobacco and RJ Reynolds Nabisco and various other tobacco industry entities for contribution/damages related to asbestos litigation. The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Raymark (asbestos company) alleged that it expended $400 million on the defense and payment of asbestos personal injury claims in trial, verdict, appeal and settlement. Raymark alleged that cigarette smoke inhaled by the asbestos claimants caused the cancers complained of in the litigation in which it has been involved. Raymark seeks to recover contribution and/or indemnity from the defendants for the share of payments made by Raymark that were allegedly caused by tortious and otherwise actionable conduct of defendants.

Raymark's claims included counts for: negligence, strict liability, fraud and misrepresentation, conspiracy and damages. Seven other cases making similar allegations have been filed. RJRT and the other tobacco industry defendants in this action dispute (he claims advanced in these cases and intend to defend all such actions vigorously. [70]

1998 Oct 5 Confidential Document: Washington based disinformation executive, David Nicoli (Philip Morris political lobbyist) is reporting that the asbestos companies have been arguing for an amendment to make it easier for asbestos companies to sue the tobacco industry. [71]

1999 Aug A contract tobacco statistician, Peter N Lee has produced a 100 page review of evidence on smoking and asbestos synergies, and the risk of lung cancer. [72]

1999 Feb RJ Reynolds legal discussion paper says:

Eight actions have been filed against the Company by asbestos companies and/or asbestos-related trust funds asserting claims for unjust enrichment, restitution, contribution, indemnity and unfair competition. These theories are advanced based on the notion that the asbestos entities have "overpaid" claims brought against them to the extent that tobacco use, not asbestos exposure, was the cause of the alleged personal injuries with respect to which they have paid compensation. As with the other health care cost recovery actions, the complaints typically seek to aggregate the alleged damages associated with tens of thousands of underlying claims, without specifically identifying a single individual who claims injury by virtue of tobacco use. While the Company believes courts should not allow this type of aggregated claims, to date there have been no rulings on the various motions to dismiss that have been filed in these actions.

1999 Feb 11 The Baltimore Sun is running a story: 'Bill ends asbestos suit cap ; Biggest beneficiary would be Angelos (Peter Angelos is a famous plaintiff lawyer who hoped to make millions working with tobacco lobbyist George L Carlo in suing cellphone companies. In this story it says that Angelos, had bought majority ownership of the (baseball team) Orioles largely out of wealth gained from asbestos cases.

Angelos, the state's leading attorney in asbestos lawsuits, stands to become the single largest beneficiary of proposed legislation to remove a cap on damages in such cases.

The bill, introduced by Sen Thomas A Bromwell at the request of Angelos' firm, would exempt most asbestos cases from a cap set by the legislature on awards for "noneconomic" damages such as pain and suffering in personal injury lawsuits. The cap, set at $350,000 when the law was passed in 1986, was raised to $500,000 in 1994, with a $15,000 a year increase after that .

Bromwell has received thousands of dollars of campaign contributions from Angelos-controlled entities over the years...


1999 Apr 16 Peter Angelos to US District Court Re; National Asbestos Workers et al v Philip Morris Inc. et al. They had come to an agreement and wanted a Motion for Summary Judgement -- but had not agreed on discovery in the RICO (racketeering) case. [74]

2000 Dec 4 Judge in Falise v ATCO et al [other tobacco companies]

In this case, trustees of the Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust have sued the tobacco companies, alleging that the companies fraudulently withheld information about the synergistic effect of asbestos and tobacco.

This resulted in more smoking and more injuries than would have occurred otherwise, and that the companies should therefore pay the Trust billions of dollars in damages. The trial is expected to last two months.

While an important case on its own merits, Falise takes on added significance given that it will take place in the courtroom of Judge Jack Weinstein. The 2nd Circuit Court above Judge Weinstein is fairly conservative and has previously ruled in favor of the tobacco industry. However, there is still reason for the industry to be wary.

Judge Weinstein has shown a willingness to push the bounds of the law to extremes (allowing a labor union case to proceed despite the 2nd Circuit's ruling that labor unions are too remotely injured to sue the tobacco companies) in order to obtain compensation for all of the types of plaintiffs suing the tobacco companies. The most glaring anti-tobacco move he has made recently has been an attempt to justify certification of an unprecedented "class action of class actions," a class encompassing all of the groups of tobacco plaintiffs, including individuals, labor unions, health care plans and asbestos companies. [75]

2001 Jan 18 TMA report on the New York Falise II testimony says, During closing arguments of the Falise II asbestos trial, plaintiffs attorney Ed Westbrook claimed that cigarette companies "conspire to hide" the so-called "synergy" of smoking and asbestos which the companies had reportedly known since the 1960s. [76]

2001EPA attacks were not supported by proper air quality monitoring data and analysis, EPA's inspector general, Nikki L Tinsley, says in a 155-page report released late Thursday. An email sent just one day after the attacks, from the then-EPA Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher's chief of staff to senior EPA officials, said "all statements to the media should be cleared" first by the National Security Council, the report says.

Approval from the NSC, which is chaired by President Bush and serves as his main forum for discussing national security and foreign policy matters with his senior aides and Cabinet, was arranged through an official with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the report said. That council, which coordinates federal environmental efforts, in turn "convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones," the inspector general found.

For example, the report found, EPA was convinced to omit from its early public statements guidance for cleaning indoor spaces and tips on potential health effects from airborne dust containing asbestos, lead, glass fibers and concrete.

James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a telephone interview Friday that EPA did "an incredible job" with the World Trade Center cleanup. "The White House was involved in making sure that we were getting the most accurate information that was real, on a wide range of activities. That included the NSC -- this was major terrorist incident," he said.

The White House directed EPA to add and delete information, Connaughton said, based on whether it should be released through press statements, information on the Web or other means. "In the back and forth during that very intense period of time, we were making decisions about where the information should be released, what the best way to communicate the information was, so that people could respond responsibly and so that people had a good relative sense of potential risk," he said.

The EPA inspector general recommends EPA adopt new procedures so its public statements on health risks and environmental quality are supported by data and analysis. Other recommendations include developing better indoor air cleanups and ways of handling asbestos in large-scale disasters.

There is no evidence that airborne asbestos in the World Trade Center area posed a long-term health risk, but no study of the effects on the general public has actually been completed. A Mount Sinai study of rescue and recovery workers found that 78 percent had suffered lung ailments.

The report notes that the agency's official position was that the levels of asbestos in outdoor air were safe for healthy adults, but that it lacked evidence about the potential health effects of indoor air and the risks of other contaminants or the effects on more vulnerable New Yorkers, including children and the elderly. The report notes that the agency's news releases did not mention these caveats and that "for the general public, EPA's overriding message was that there was no significant threat to human health."

The report says an associate administrator considered adding to a news release information on the risks of exposure to fine dust particles for the more vulnerable segments of the population.

But an official from the Council on Environmental Quality "discouraged her from doing so," the report says, arguing that information about health effects should not be in EPA news releases.

The report compares two news releases with their draft versions and concludes, "Every change that was suggested by the CEQ contact was made."

The Times' account of the report says that the title for the original version of one news release was, "EPA Initiating Emergency Response Activities, Testing Terrorized Sites For Environmental Hazards." In the final version, the second clause was changed to read, "Reassures Public About Environmental Hazards."

In the same release, a section that said, "Even at low levels, EPA considers asbestos hazardous in this situation" was deleted and replaced with a section that read, in part, "Short-term, low-level exposure of the type that might have been produced by the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings is unlikely to cause significant health effects." [77]

2003 Aug 9 "White House Molded EPA's 9/11 Reports"

The Environmental Protection Agency's internal watchdog says White House officials pressured the agency to prematurely assure the public that the air was safe to breathe a week after the World Trade Center


"Competing considerations, such as national security concerns and the desire to reopen Wall Street, also played a role in EPA's air quality statements," the report said.

The New York Times, which reported on the inspector general's findings before they were made public, points out that officials from the EPA and from the White House criticized the report, saying investigators misunderstood the complexity of the situation after the terror attack. The agency's initial statements in the days following the Sept. 11,

2006 Dec 20 Lester Brinkman, Professor of law, responds to criticism of his paper "Toxic Torts & Mass Actions: Medican Screening" The letter is addressed to Henry N Butler at Chapman University, Orange, California.

The argument is over silicosis and asbestos-related diseases. See the attached Readers' Digest article [Jan 2007] "The $40 billion scam" about false diagnoses of silicosis. Brinkman believes that "bogus and invalid claims will total at least $40 billion..."

[Good material here on asbestos and Johns Manville.] The main 'screening lawyer' was Heath Mason, Shut down the business in 1996 after taking "in $25.5 million from lawfirms for his now discredited services." [78]

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