McGill University Asbestos Study Draws Criticism

20 or so scientists and researchers have recently called into question a major asbestos research study, issuing a letter to McGill University’s Dean of Medicine, Dr. David Eidelman, requesting a “thorough and, independent, and transparent investigation of the original study,” which activists claim is “flawed, lacks transparency, and contains manipulated data,” as reported by CBC News, serving Montreal. CBC News claims that this group of anti-asbestos activists and scientists “are criticizing McGill University’s plans for an internal review of a major asbestos research study” conducted by the University some time ago. These reports follow an announcement from McGill University stating they would “review the findings of the study,” which was lead by J. Corbett McDonald. This statement followed the airing of a CBC documentary which concerned the University’s past ties to the asbestos industry. The initial report led by McDonald followed the health of “11,000 miners and mill workers in Quebec between 1966 and the late 1900s.” Conversely, this report is used by the Chrysotile Institute, a “lobby arm funded by, overseen and closely associated with both the former Liberal and Conservative governments to promote the use of asbestos overseas.” According to CBC News, those opposing the planned review have stated a conflict of interest in their letter to Eidelman, stating that “Prof. Rebecca Fuhrer, the school’s Chair of the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health, by being chosen to conduct the internal review, remains a conflict due to the fact that McDonald is currently a Professor Emeritus of the Department of Epidemiology. CBC’s report goes on to quote the activists’ disapproval, publishing a portion of one of their recent letters, “you also state that you expect Prof. Fuhrer’s review to be completed next week. Given the serious nature of the concerns raised, this does not indicate a credible review.” According to CBC News, in his initial study, McDonald suggested that chrysotile was “essentially innocuous” at certain levels, going as far as to advocate for its export to Third World countries. The earlier research in question suggested through a study conducted in 1997 that cases of mesothelioma occurred in “most, if not all miners who had a greater exposure to tremolite, a more dangerous contaminant than chrysotile, and that the mines close to the center of the town of Thetford, Quebec, were the ones most contaminated with tremolite.” CBC’s report, however, states that “Eidelman has said that McDonald’s work demonstrated that asbestos, including chrysotile asbestos, is a carcinogen associated with both lung cancer and mesothelioma.” The news source does so by obtaining documents showing payments from the Quebec Asbestos Mining Association to McDonald, as well as other researchers at the McGill School of Occupational Health.” Such payments were made between the years of 1966 to 1972 and total almost one million dollars. Reference:
  • CBC News Staff Writer. (February 10, 2012). “McGill asbestos study review criticized.” Retrieved on February 16, 2012, from CBC News.
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