February 12, 2012 – Brown University professor, Dr. David Egilman, says that the 40-year old study done by McGill University in Quebec, Canada, on asbestos safety is inaccurate, lacks transparency and contains data that was manipulated. Dr. Egilman who specializes in the study of the cause and transmission of diseases within a population has been examining the hazards of asbestos for over two decades. He is a longtime critic of the McGill University study which is used by the Chrysotile Institute, an asbestos industry lobbying association, to support the continued export of chrysotile asbestos overseas.
As people became increasingly aware of the dangers of asbestos, the asbestos industry decided to do its own research and hired Dr. John Corbett McDonald, a scientist at McGill University, to conduct an asbestos industry study. The study tracked the health of 11,000 miners and mill workers in Quebec from 1966 until the late 1990s. Documents have surfaced that show payments from the Quebec Asbestos Mining Association to Dr. McDonald and other McGill University researchers were made while the study was underway totaling almost a million dollars.
The McGill University research suggested that because Tremolite asbestos, sometimes found alongside chrysotile asbestos, is even more dangerous than chrysotile, Tremolite contamination in chrysotile mines caused mesothelioma. The researched relied on data suggesting that mesothelioma occurred in “most, if not all” miners who had worked in the mines most contaminated with Tremolite. Since Dr. McDonald’s study suggested that Tremolite contamination was the cause of mesothelioma in the miners studied, the researchers concluded that chrysotile was basically harmless at fixed levels and was safe for export to the Third World.
Dr. Egilman, along with John Dement, an asbestos specialist at Duke University and Dr. Richard Lemen, a former US assistant surgeon general, has called for the release of the McGill study data. Asbestos specialists asking for release of the study data have the opinion that the researchers are hiding something or they are afraid that the results will be interpreted differently. A key McGill researchers is refusing to give the data to Egilman and his fellow specialists, but has stated that he is sharing the data with some American agencies.