VIDEO PBS NewsHour: “The stunning truth about asbestos use in the U.S.”

Posted on March 13, 2019

Cancel your Wednesday night plans — you won’t want to miss tonight’s PBS Newshour featuring an extensive report on the ins and outs of asbestos from correspondent Miles O’Brien.

The segment features interviews with Dr. Brenda Buck, an asbestos researcher at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, representatives of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the industry trade group that represents the only asbestos users left in America, and myself. Tonight’s broadcast will also include the last video interview from longtime ban asbestos advocate, dear friend, and ADAO Paul Zygielbaum, who passed away in January.

In fifteen years of doing this work, I have never before seen one report bring together the voices of industry, science, victims, and advocates. Thanks to Miles’ extensive and diligent reporting, viewers around the world will hear the truth about this killer fiber, exposure risks and health impact, the deadly lack of policy, and the industry’s dangerous spin on the facts.

As Miles has said the the Less Cancer’s Workshops, “More than a century after the risks first came to light, asbestos is a poster child for a broken regulatory process.”

Not only is Miles an award-winning journalist, he has a personal connection and great sensitivity to the importance of cancer prevention as a family member passed away.

It has been such an honor to work with Miles on this vitally important segment. I can’t lie — although Alan passed away in 2006, when I spoke with Miles, my tears surfaced and flowed.  Since we, asbestos victims, know that this once so-called magic mineral was widely used by corporations, we feel not only grief, but anger. It is vindicating to see such a talented journalist address our cause on such a prestigious and widely watched news network.

Though we have had the truth and science on our side, it has been an uphill battle to get the wider public to understand the real dangers of asbestos. Between people mistakenly believing asbestos was banned long ago and the malicious spread of misinformation and propaganda spun by asbestos manufacturers and users, the realities of the risk remain unknown to many. The media has the power to set this narrative straight. I am so thankful to Miles for making a huge stride in this regard with this segment, and I hope you all are, too.

In the coming days, I will be speaking with Miles about his process in reporting this story, and what he hopes PBS Newshour viewers will take away from the segment. Be sure to check back to read that full interview soon.

Miles ended the segment with “Asbestos will likely take thousands of other American lives before the year ends. The deaths are slow and painful, not unlike the regulatory response to this public health crisis.”

Together — and with the help of journalists — we are making change happen!