Bush administration blocked asbestos warnings

Support business at all costs and regardless of the potentially deadly consequences. Rinse, repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat.

In 2002, then-EPA Administrator Christy Todd Whitman agreed with her team of scientists and physicians working in Libby that a “Public Health Emergency” should be declared because of the severe toxicity of the asbestos contamination in the insulation. The declaration would have authorized and provided money for intensified health studies that would quantify the threat from the Libby asbestos, expand the cleanup of the town and the homes, and conduct an extensive publicity campaign to notify homeowners and workers of the dangers from exposure to Zonolite.

Thousands of pages of e-mails, letters and reports document intense efforts from the White House to block the declaration, especially the part that would require the government to tell millions of homeowners that they could be living with a toxic threat in their attic and walls.

In May 2003, EPA said it was launching a “national consumer awareness campaign to provide homeowners with important information on vermiculite attic insulation which may contain asbestos.”

It promised extensive television and radio ads, a “blitz” of appearances on national and local news show, the distribution of “tens of thousands” of posters and warning brochures in home improvement stores.

It never happened.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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