Richard North, EUReferendum, has posted and linked to Christopher Booker’s latest article in today’s Sunday Telegraph, this latest article dealing with asbestos cement and its presence in some farm buildings.
The introduction to Christopher Booker’s and Richard North’s book “Scared to Death” – in which they go into great detail about the ‘asbestos scare’ – begins with a quotation:
“In the night, imagining some fear, how easy is a bush supposed a bear.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, Scene 1
The two authors state that the purpose of their book is to show how there has been a common pattern behind each of the scares we have had thrust upon us (salmonella in eggs;BSE in beef; DDT nitrate in water; lead in petrol and computers; passive smoking; SARS; and asbestos to name but a few).
As the authors write; each was based on what appeared at the time to be scientific evidence that was widely accepted; each inspired obsessive coverage in the media; each then provoked a massive response from politicians and officials who imposed new laws that inflicted enormous economic and social damage.
It can be said that all scares begin with a misconception which allow a genuine problem to be exaggerated into a monumental scare; aided and abetted by a slogan (in the case of asbestos: ‘one fibre can kill’) that asbestos became demonized and led many people to believe that the slightest exposure to this product might be as dangerous as contact with anthrax.
In his article Christopher Booker explains the difference between blue, brown and white asbestos – and states that white asbestos poses no measurable risk to health. It is worth quoting one further passage from Booker/North’s book on this subject (page275) as the fact is not that well-known:
“…..asbestos is, in fact, a substance which naturally occurs so ubiquitously in the earth’s atmosphere that each of us breathes in some 14,000 microscopic fibres of it each and every day (‘Asbestos and other natural mineral fibres’, Environmental Health Criteria, 53 [WHO, Geneva, 1986]). Thanks to microphages and other defence mechanisms of the human body, these are rendered quite harmless. The lungs of anyone over the 50 may contain as many as 200 million asbestos fibres. Yet they do not affect our health, because they have not met the conditions needed to cause damage.”
Leaving the matter of asbestos to one side, “Scared to Death” is a fascinating book and one I can highly recommend. It demonstrates how, time and time again, the public is manipulated and ‘led up the garden path’, the result of which is enormous cost which has to be met, one way or the other, by them.