The World Trade Center, which was being built in 1971, had construction plans changed when New York City banned the use of asbestos in buildings. Mesothelioma a deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure was becoming more well known. At that point construction of the World Trade Center was near the 64th floor of the twin towers. The use of asbestos was already reduced by the time construction was being done above the 40th floor in anticipation of the City of New York ban. Over 400 tons of asbestos had already been put into the towers. Original plans called for over 5,000 tons of asbestos to be used. Thirty years before the September 11 attack it was prophetically suggested by the inventor of the wet asbestos fireproofing spray, that if there ever was a fire above the 64th floor the buildings could collapse. On February 13, 1975 there was a fire on the 11th floor of the World Trade Center North Tower which was put out within a few hours. The Asbestos industry happily took credit for the outcome in the advertisement shown above about the benefits of asbestos in buildings. Many years later and fifteen years ago the twin towers of the World Trade Center came down, after terrorist hijackers crashed planes into the upper floors on September 11, 2001, Lower Manhattan was filled with toxic dust and many people had major asbestos exposure and were put at risk for Mesothelioma. The World Trade Center Health Registry estimates about 410,000 people were exposed to a host of toxins including asbestos during the rescue, recovery and clean-up efforts that followed 9/11. People most affected by asbestos at Ground Zero were people assigned to rescue survivors. These workers were among the first on the scene and the last to leave the wreckage. Search and rescue workers and others responsible for cleaning up the debris after the towers collapsed were also exposed.
September 11 rescuers, survivors and occupants of the area have suffered from asbestos exposure and illnesses from inhaling the asbestos and other toxins in the air. In addition to the fine asbestos powder which landed on September 11th 2001, the Boston Globe reported on September 14, 2001 that one test sample taken of the air in the vicinity of ground zero contained 4% asbestos which is four times the legal limit of 1% at which point it is considered unsafe. Cranes and bulldozers working in the area for clean up, continuously disturbed the asbestos dust for months. The destruction of the World Trade Center has expanded the risk of perhaps half a million people of developing Mesothelioma. Many people will in time develop Asbestosis or worse, Mesothelioma, which can only be caused by asbestos exposure.
Most large buildings up until the late 1970s were constructed with asbestos for safety reasons. The World Trade Center was opened April 4, 1973 and was filled internally with asbestos. That is how buildings were built. Not any more. There is no asbestos in buildings built today but people continue to live, work and attend school in asbestos filled older buildings every day. Asbestos exposure is still an everyday occurrence in Canada and the USA. The greatest danger from asbestos exposure comes when it is disturbed and released in the air to be breathed in by people in the vicinity. That is what happened on September 11, 2001. There is no reason to believe that the World Trade Center would have been saved or any less people would have died if the asbestos was used right to the top as planned. The heat of the fire was enough to destroy any steel structure with or without the protection given by asbestos. There are many lessons to be learned from the construction and 15 years ago the destruction of the World Trade Center , including the ones related to asbestos.
In Canada asbestos was used everywhere until the early 1980s. People worked with asbestos every day using thousands of different products with no protection from the danger of asbestos. Asbestos products were made by American companies and their Canadian subsidiaries for years. Some of the asbestos mines in Quebec were owned by the leading American asbestos company Johns Manville which also had a large facility in Scarborough, Ontario where asbestos was processed and workers and their families who lived on the site could not avoid inhaling asbestos fibres.
Then people learned the hidden truth that asbestos was a dangerous product and asbestos was banned from use in Canada. In Canada, Canadians can not generally sue their employers or other Canadian employers due to Workers’ Compensation laws. The US companies which made asbestos products were sued by Americans in American courts where access by Canadian Mesothelioma victims is restricted. Canadian victims have generally been limited to claiming Workers’ Compensation benefits plus any private or other health disability or life insurance they may have.
Over time more and more people developed the deadly cancer Mesothelioma which can only be caused by exposure to asbestos. It was considered a rare disease which took about 10 to 20 years to develop after the asbestos exposure. In fact, it is a very common cancer that was often misdiagnosed and it takes up to 50 years to get it after breathing in asbestos even in microscopic amounts. Those who work with asbestos and breathed it in more regularly are more likely to get Mesothelioma than those who have infrequent exposure. Family members such as spouses or children sometimes get Mesothelioma from asbestos dust brought home from a workplace. That is called secondary exposure. Some people have not to their knowledge been exposed to asbestos fibres and it can be a mystery to determine where and how a person may have developed Mesothelioma. It is also impossible to tell which asbestos exposure incident may have caused an individual to develop the disease.
Because Mesothelioma can only be caused by asbestos exposure the law in the United States has developed so that compensation can be received from multiple sources provided a person with Mesothelioma can establish that they were exposed to specific asbestos manufacturers’ products. Most asbestos manufacturers were sued into bankruptcy or corporate rearrangement where funds were set up to compensate victims of their products. Fortunately, Canadians are allowed to apply to most of these funds for compensation. The asbestos trusts are all based in the United States and pay victims in US dollars. Payment where there is exposure by the worker and also for secondary exposure is made by the asbestos trusts. This provides an alternative way to seek compensation than Workers’ Compensation which may be more beneficial to the person with the illness and their family. Workers Compensation is not available for Mesothelioma due to secondary exposure. Where a person receives benefits from Workers’ Compensation their right to claim from the US asbestos trusts is transferred to the provincial compensation board which then hires lawyers in the United States to get back money paid on related claims.
Canadians generally are not aware of their right to claim directly from the asbestos trusts. These trusts have an online claims administration process. There are a number of American law firms which regularly apply for compensation for American and sometimes Canadian clients. There is very little in the way of legal resources in Canada to help with asbestos compensation. This website is sponsored and operated by Miskin Law Offices In Canada, Miskin Law Offices directly bring claims on behalf of Canadians to the asbestos trusts on a contingency fee basis. A fee is only charged when money is recovered and it is a percentage of the recovery matching what is charged by US law firms. Clients can choose to receive American dollars or have their compensation converted to Canadian dollars. The Miskin Law Firm works nationally representing asbestos clients from coast to coast and we personally travel as needed to see clients. Murray Miskin and his staff will be pleased to speak with you about your personal situation to help you determine what compensation may be available and to help you make the right choice. Call toll free to 1-877-428-8000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Donald Trump is now the President of the United States and so his opinions about asbestos are very important and relevant. Like his opinions on many issues, his views run contrary to mainstream thought about asbestos as a dangerous product. Mr. Trump believed that banning and removing asbestos from buildings was a big mistake. He considered asbestos to be the best fire proofing substance available and called alternatives “junk”. He considered the asbestos removal industry to be a “mob” plot. One of his claims made in an October 17, 2012 Tweet, is that the World Trade Center would never have been destroyed, “if we didn’t remove [the] incredibly powerful fire retardant asbestos & replace it with junk that doesn’t work.” In fact asbestos was not removed from the World Trade Center but rather while it was being built asbestos use was banned in New York City so that the higher floors built later did not have asbestos. See our post on Asbestos and and the World Trade Center
In his 1997 book “The Art of the Comeback” Donald Trump wrote: “I believe that the movement against asbestos was led by the mob, because it was often mob-related companies that would do the asbestos removal. Great pressure was put on politicians, and as usual, the politicians relented. Millions of truckloads of this incredible fire-proofing material were taken to special “dump sites” and asbestos was replaced by materials that were supposedly safe but couldn’t hold a candle to asbestos in limiting the ravages of fire.”
The 58 storey Trump Towers on Fifth Avenue in New York City opened in 1983. Trump Towers was built by illegal workers paid $5 an hour off the books with no payment for overtime and terrible working conditions. The work began with the demolition of an existing asbestos filled structure. 200 Polish construction workers who worked illegally on the construction of Trump Tower in New York sued Trump, with some telling the New York Times that “they often worked in choking clouds of asbestos dust without protective equipment.” After court rulings against Trump the lawsuit settled in 1999 with the terms being confidential. More details of what happened can be found at this New York Times article.
Here is a Youtube video of Donald Trump in 2005 speaking in support of the use of asbestos: Trump Asbestos Video.
Interestingly, both Donald Trump and a man he greatly respects, Russian President Vladimir Putin, are strong advocates for the use of asbestos. Russia is now the world’s leading producer and exporter of asbestos. What will happen to US asbestos policy under Trump. We must be vigilant.
At this website our goal is to educate people about the real and often little known facts about asbestos. This is a different kind of post to let you know what is being done in Russia to misinform people about asbestos. The Government of Canada was on this path until recently when it retreated from arguing the safety and benefits of Chrysotile asbestos in the Government’s now abandoned attempts to support the revival of the Canadian asbestos industry. Mesothelioma victims will continue to appear if our societies do not stop the mining of asbestos. The following was researched and written by Daniel J. Miskin of Miskin Law Offices using original Russian sources translated into English:
The biggest producer of asbestos in the World is now Russia. Almost all developed countries have banned asbestos products for many years now. In Canada and the USA Mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer caused by asbestos kills thousands each year from use decades earlier. The banned substance is still being mined throughout the world, and mining was discontinued in Canada in November of 2011. Asbestos from Russia is being sent in huge quantities to China, India, and South East Asia and elsewhere. Russian policy wholeheartedly supports the idea that asbestos can be mined and used safely and does not cause any form of cancer, most notably mesothelioma. They say they are fighting a smear campaign against the industry.
In 2011 Canada shut down its last asbestos mine in Quebec. Their main product at the mine was chrysotile asbestos. There are several types of asbestos. The Harper government until recently had as its policy that chrysotile asbestos safe for humans. This was clearly wrong, after many studies and deaths proved the harm chrysotile asbestos can cause. The Harper government has now accepted the Rotterdam convention, which labels all asbestos as unsafe. Another type of of asbestos is called ‘amphibole asbestos’ or brown asbestos. The use of brown asbestos is prohibited in Russia, but chrysotile is not forbidden and mined heavily. The belief that Canada’s government once held is still firmly accepted in Russia, that chrysotile asbestos causes no harm to humans. Just ask anyone with mesothelioma the harms of asbestos, but you better ask quickly.
In America in 1963 suspicion became reality when American medical researcher Dr. Irving Selikoff published case studies of asbestos cancer victims. The American asbestos industry responded with a smear campaign to discredit Dr. Selikoff and his research. For years after the asbestos manufacturers denied the connection between asbestos and mesothelioma. In 1972 six major asbestos manufacturers formed the Asbestos Information Association (AIA). This associations purpose was the counter the growing scientific evidence against asbestos. The AIA was managed by the same firmed working on behalf of Big Tobacco, which was also eagerly denying the connection between smoking and lung cancer at the time.
There is a town in Russia called Asbest. The main activity in this town, as you guessed, is mining asbestos. It is their livelihood, the whole town would not exist without the mine. Most of the residents work at the mine have close ties to the asbestos industry. Asbest is located near the World’s largest open quarry. Many of the locals go to an observation deck in the mountains to watch the massive explosions from the mine. The residents want to prove to the world to live and work there is safe, and they are doing this at all costs.
The town and asbestos mines are trying to get youths involved in their campaign. They have done this by creating a Youth Forum. They are trying to create young activists to create a pro-asbestos campaign. They truly believe asbestos is needed everywhere. The people of this town do not want their livelihood taken away. Yet if they are diagnosed with mesothelioma, their livelihood will sadly end quickly.
The two biggest asbestos manufacturers in Russia are Orenburg Minerals and Uralasblast. The Russian asbestos companies believe a large scale false anti-asbestos campaign has been launched in the West. They believe this is an example of deliberate discretization of an adverse industry, through manipulation of public consciousness.The Russian asbestos industries believe that powerful anti-asbestos lobbyists in the West demonize the image of asbestos with no distinction between the type and forms. Russia does admit that brown asbestos does have very harmful effects on human health. They also believe chrysotile asbestos, which is their whole industry, is harmless to humans.
The Russian asbestos industry hopes Canadian producers will return to work as quick as possible. Russians industries have had talks with several investors – they believe since the Quebec government is not allocating financial resources to the asbestos companies a loan will be found. Clearly they do not understand the situation in Canada. The Russians estimate we lost a lot of asbestos mining this year, but in the next few years we will probably produce 10 -15 million tons. They understand that they are competitors, but also know they must stick together, they do not forget the Canadian producers allegiance to chrysotile for such a long time, almost alone opposing the widening of the anti-asbestos campaign. The Russians know the world’s largest deposits of chrysotile are in Canada, and that the asbestos in Canada is unique in their quality fibre. They even think Canadian chrysotile is the best in the world.
Regrettably the Russians are being helped transport their deadly materials throughout the world. The Europeans let the Russians use their ports, railways and infrastructure for asbestos. Russia has a list of over 3000 different types of products containing chrysotile products that are authorized for use. One of their claims is that asbestos is a natural occurring substance and that the earth’s crust is formed from ⅔ chrysotile asbestos. Their argument is that due to the high quantities of chrysotile asbestos already within the earths crust, it is no danger even though it is being mined out of the crust and inhaled by us.
Currently South East Asia is the worlds biggest consumer of chrysotile. India imports over 400 thousand tons per year, and China consumes over 500 million tons of chrysotile per year. The asbestos industry claims regular metal will rot while asbestos roofing will last 40 years! It is seen as a commodity for the poor. As countries get richer, they will refuse chrysotile. Or perhaps as more citizens are diagnosed with mesothelioma, then something can finally be done.
Will the Russian Asbestos Industry prevail? Or will the critics in the west shut down this toxic industry for good. In the Russian town of Asbest, their livelihood depends on this industry, and they will do everything they can to keep their way of life, even if it is degrading to their health.
Do they cover up illness from asbestos? The likelihood is that many Russians and the customers of their product are getting deadly cancer. Should use be halted? Or should asbestos be used and produced in an even safer way? There are many chemicals in the world that are deadly to humans and are produced everyday in our countries. Tighter regulations around the world, and better ways of cancer prevention need to be enforced if asbestos use is going to continue. I would like to see asbestos use halted, and the thousands of people working in the industry be put in more beneficial industries that help our environment and health instead of degrade it.