A major 40-year study on asbestos safety completed by a group of scientists at McGill University is flawed, lacks transparency and contains manipulated data says Dr. David Egilman, a professor at Brown University, health activist and longtime industry critic.
The study, which followed the health of 11,000 miners and mill workers in Quebec between 1966 and the late 1990s, is used by the Chrysotile Institute — a lobby arm funded by, overseen and closely associated with both Liberal and Conservative governments — to promote the use of asbestos overseas.
According to Egilman, as the dangers of asbestos became better known in the 1960s, the industry decided to do its own research and hired Dr. John Corbett McDonald at McGill University’s School of Occupational Health. Industry documents obtained by CBC News showed it wanted to conduct research similar to that in the tobacco industry, which stated that “Industry is always well advised to look after its own problems.”
Starting in the mid-1960s, McDonald headed the McGill study. The CBC has documents that show payments from the Quebec Asbestos Mining Association to McDonald and other researchers at the McGill School of Occupational Health totalling almost a million dollars from 1966 to 1972.
Tremolite versus asbestos
Tremolite, an even more dangerous contaminant than chrysotile, is sometimes found alongside white asbestos or chrysotile.
The McGill researchers would suggest in a 1997 study that cases of mesothelioma — cancer of the lining of the lung — occurred in “most, if not all,” miners who had a greater exposure to tremolite and that the mines close to the centre of the town of Thetford, Que., were the ones most contaminated with…….