posted by
Property Rights Foundation of America®
Founded 1994

508 First Street SE
Washington, D.C. 20003

Contact: Don Fife (714) 544 8406 fax: (714) 731 3745 e-mail:
P.O. Box 1054
Tustin, CA 92781

Environmental Hysteria Can Kill
by Don Fife

California's State Element is gold and the State Rock is serpentine, the major source of chrysotile asbestos. Millions of acres of the California Coast Ranges and western slope of the Sierra Nevada are underlain by chrysotile asbestos bearing rock and soil, and it has been there for millions of years. Much of the San Francisco Bay area is underlain by these same rock formations. Were it as dangerous as some government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imply, thousands of Californians would be dead and dying from it.

As a scientist, my opinion is that most hysteria about asbestos is an expensive and dangerous environmental racket. It has cost our school systems, and therefore our taxpayers, billions of dollars in unnecessary asbestos removal. Also, there have been billions of dollars lost in our space shuttle program as well as the world-wide humiliation of having needlessly lost Mrs. Christa McAuliffe and the other Challenger astronauts.

Known research has been ignored. Dana Farber of the Cancer Research Institute in an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, November, 1989 found that chrysotile asbestos fibers, no more than ordinary dust or fiberglass, can be dangerous when abused, and that amphibole asbestos (i.e. amosite and crocidolite varieties) from Africa and Austrialia - not domestic asbestos - are the "bad actors."

In the early 1980's, I was doing some research at the laboratories of the Calaveras Asbestos Company in Calaveras, California. While having lunch with the company employees, it was announced by corporate president, Gordon Coates, that asbestos orders for the sealant for the space shuttle program had been cancelled. Morton Thiokol engineers were concerned, as the asbestos (domestic type chrysotile asbestos) was being removed due to EPA's ill-considered edict to stop using all forms of asbestos for any use whatsoever. Therefore, after 25 successful launches of the space shuttle with asbestos in the O-ring sealant, the asbestos was removed. There followed a series of near failures of the O-rings, and finally, the Challenger was launched - again without asbestos in the O-ring sealant.

We were told (and we are still being told) that the failure was due to the cold weather in Florida. At the elevations where the failure occurred, it is always cold - much colder than Florida could possibly be at sea level. This is where the O-rings with asbestos did not fail, and where the O-rings without asbestos failed or nearly failed. In 1989 I testified before both U.S. House of Representatives and Senate Resource Committees about this cover-up. They didn't want to hear it, but you could hear a pin drop in the hearing rooms!

Several good sources of information include:
1.) The Asbestos Racket: An Environmental Parable, Michael J. Bennett, Free Enterprise Press, Bellevue, Washington
2.) Dr. Malcolm Ross, Asbestos expert, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia (703) 648-4000
3.) Prescription for Disaster; From the Glory of Apollo to the Betrayal of Challenger, by Joseph Trento

Don Fife is a consulting geologist in Tustin, California. Mr Fife worked for 14 years as an environmental and engineering geologist for the state of California.

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