Don't throw dust

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, July 31, 2005

Your recent news article said samples at Stablers Quarry showed 3 percent and 5 percent asbestos. A mineral expert says it is "far less than 1 percent of the total rock." A regulator says, "the main danger is from inhalation" of the dust. A worker says, "the rain obviously kept the dust down" when they were testing for it.

Obviously an isolated sample could be 100 percent asbestos by itself. On the other hand, it can be said the asbestos is less than 1 percent of the total quarry. It seems I could say the asbestos is whatever percentage I want it to be depending upon my viewpoint. The asbestos in the Ace Hardware building on Front Street was also less than 1 percent of the entire building, but common sense made us worry about its release in the form of dust that could be inhaled.

If the street in my neighborhood is surfaced with crushed rock from Stablers Quarry, and traffic raises dust in dry weather that drifts into my home, am I safe? If this has been going on for years, should I get a chest X-ray? Will the city pay for my medical bills? If, as your article says, the EPA doesn't regulate this, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration is concerned with only the quarry, who do I call about the dust from my street?

We should all beware of statistical smoke and mirrors that are so common in government and media these days. It looks like the usual story at Stablers Quarry; that is, people involved in the controversy are making money selling the rock. Are foxes guarding the hen house?

David Reed

Juneau



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