Wednesday, 22 October 2008

"Workmen ignoring asbestos risk"

Today's award for Perpetuating Myths goes to this BBC article, as it fails to point out the difference between blue and brown asbestos (very dangerous) and white asbestos (relatively harmless); or that 95% of asbestos used in buildings is of the white variety (Wiki).

The only redeeming bit is right at the end, "... the HSE stresses that asbestos which is sealed and in good condition rarely poses a risk unless it is disturbed", so think about that next time you hear that a building has been closed to enable a specialist asbestos removal company do its worst.

UPDATE: GS has provided an even better link in the comments. There is an important economics point here; notwithstanding that white asbestos removal is a waste of time and money, it is not sufficient for lobbyists to have regulations to create business for them; successful lobbyists also need barriers to entry, or else the extra profits would just be competed away by new entrants. The clue is here: "... shameless exploitation by many of the firms to which the HSE gave the exclusive right to handle asbestos." As and when the victims complain about the scam, the lobbyists shed crocodile tears and suggest that the victims be given subsidies to help them pay for the 'service', boosting the lobbyists' incomes even further ...

5 comments:

Simon Fawthrop said...

I heard that on the radio this morning and they made the same mistake (do they just read out articles from the web or use the scripts to create web articles?) and thought about Christopher Booker who has been banging on about this distinction for as long as we've had asbestos scares.

This article from 2006 shows how the beeb is complicit in a huge scam.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1531446/Christopher-Booker%27s-Notebook.html

John Pickworth said...

On BBC Breakfast were a father and son 'victims' to warn of the dangers of asbestos....

Having recently been responsible for bringing my work place up to code; I remember this pair... they were both in a Government Information Film! Its available online but don't remember where.

Anonymous said...

The litriture you are reading is old. It has been proven that White Asbestos (Chysotile)also causes mesothelioma. Not risky? I suppose that roll your owns fags are less cancer causing than taylor mades in your opinion as well!!

Mark Wadsworth said...

Anon, rolling your own is indisputably less unhealthy than tailor made.

And nobody says that white asbestos is harmless. The is not the point - if it is suitably encased, the benefits from reduced fire risk etc vastly outweigh the modest health risks. Finally, once it's in a building, the best thing you can do is leave well alone, rather than ripping it out at huge expense and creating clouds of mildly toxic dust.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, Mark. I'm going to write a post on this.