Asbestos

Asbestos has been one of the most well-studied chemicals in the history of occupational epidemiology, industrial hygiene, and toxicology. It has also been involved in thousands of lawsuits that have distributed tens of billions of dollars to various persons over the past 40 years. 

Experts in this area must have a reasonable command of at least 160-500 published papers in order to be a subject matter expert.  For example, in a set of comments that we submitted to the EPA on May 26, 2020 related to the Proposed Risk Assessment for Chrysotile (available upon request), we cited nearly 300 references.

Some members of our staff have studied asbestos for more than 20 years and they have served on various advisory boards that addressed all three commercial forms of asbestos. Dr. Paustenbach has given more than 400 depositions on the toxicology and industrial hygiene aspects of asbestos.  He and others have conducted more than 1,000 exposure assessment.  He has a good understanding of the state of the art regarding the understanding of the asbestos hazard over time.   He has published more than 30 peer-reviewed manuscripts on asbestos (exposure science, toxicology, take-home exposures, by-stander exposures, and exposure to residents).  Dr. Paustenbach has testified about chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, the Libby amphiboles, tremolite, and anthophyllite.

Our firm is an authority on the historical hazards posed by chrysotile in bakelite, gaskets, radios and TVs, vehicle brakes, elevator brakes, motorcycle brakes, and other friction materials.

Our library of information on asbestos is among the most complete in the nation.

Key Projects

  • Evaluated the risk of an asbestos-related disease due to fiber drift at a shipyard.  Lawyers for the plaintiffs claimed that persons who worked very far away from a work area were overexposed.  In this case, the sailor was allegedly exposed outside a ship within 200 yards of an exhaust duct (Summer of 2020).
  • Evaluated the risk associated with exposure to brake dust from tractors, buses, autos, trucks, railroad cars, and nearly any other device that required braking from 1950-1985.  Over the past 20 years, was retained in over 1,000 cases and testified in more than 400 depositions.  Testified in trial on over 30 occasions.  Wrote more than 10 papers on this topic.
  • Respirators and their limitations for protecting workers.  Was retained by a major manufacturer who sold disposable (sometimes single-use) respirators intended to protect workers from various dusts.  The claim was that they often did not provide a protection factor of 5 or 10 and, as a result, did not always adequately protect persons who worked with asbestos in the 1970s and 1980s.  (Summer of 2020)
  • Evaluated the plausible health hazard of asbestos emissions to a community 2-3 miles from the point source:  Was retained to estimate the ambient concentrations of crocidolite and chrysotile far from the plant which had inadequate air cleaning devices and which manufactured transite pipe, transite wallboard, and cements.  This required the use of original research conducted by our firm on fiber transport which was then incorporated into classic air dispersion models.  (Summer/Fall of 2020)
  • Retained to evaluate the risks to mechanics of working with asbestos-containing gaskets on motorcycles.  The number of claims against motorcycle manufacturers has increased in recent years.  We were retained to give opinions about the magnitude of exposure and the likelihood of developing an asbestos-related disease (all of 2020).
  • Assessment of the hazards of asbestos-containing duct sealer.  Was retained by a firm to evaluate the possible hazards to workers applying, and later attempting to remove, a polymer-based duct sealer.  The 1950s product was remanufactured and used in a simulation study (fall 2018).  The results were published in an internal report.  We expect a published paper to follow.  Consulted on some cases in 2018 and 2019.
  • Asbestos Exposure to Millwright at Oil Platform Construction Facility.   Evaluated claims that there was excessive exposure to asbestos fibers while working with gaskets at a site in Louisiana (Spring of 2019)
  • State of Art Expert in an Asbestos case:  Was retained by a firm that had had employees allegedly involved in installing insulation in homes in the 1950s and 1960s.  Claims were made that this union worker was never informed of an asbestos hazard.
  • Claims of asbestos-related disease in tire workers.  It was claimed that a contractor who worked at a Goodyear facility had developed meso as a result of working part-time at that site.  An exposure analysis and causation analysis was conducted and presented in an opinion letter (mid-2018).
  • Numerous cases associated with gaskets.  Throughout 2018, various claims were made against pump manufacturers that the asbestos that might have been released during the change of gaskets was the cause of disease.  Many opinion letters were offered, and the courts often concluded that the scientific basis of the claims were unfounded (all of 2018).
  • Libby amphiboles released from a lumber processing facility.  We were asked to evaluate the magnitude of the release of asbestos fibers (so-called Libby amphiboles) from a wood processing facility that operated in Libby for several decades.  A number of claims had been made that the emissions caused disease in the community. (2017 and 2018).
  • Exposure of persons who cut cement pipe containing asbestos.  We evaluated the possible inhalation hazard associated with cutting pre-1970 cement pipe that contained about 15% chrysotile and 10% crocidolite.  We also evaluated the take-home hazard of contaminated clothing (summer of 2016 through spring of 2017).  A manuscript describing the exposures was published in late 2017.
  • Evaluated the historical asbestos hazard to radio and TV repairmen of the 1950s and 1960s.  We were asked to evaluate the magnitude of health risk, if any, associated with repairing radios and TVs during the era when asbestos may have been used in the bakelite base holding the vacuum tubes, the heat shield and dust guards.
  • Asbestos in various laboratory products.  A client approached us to determine the magnitude of health risks (if any) associated with working with historical chrysotile containing laboratory products.  These included Bunsen burner heat distributors, asbestos gloves, asbestos blankets, and the covering of thongs used to handle very hot test tubes (summer of 2015).
  • Tremolite in vermiculite. Was requested by a client to evaluate the plausible health risks of asbestosform and non-asbestoform tremolite in various products that contained vermiculites in the 1980s (spring, 2015). 
  • Crocidolite asbestos in pipe coverings.  A number of cases were filed where the claim involved exposure to crocidolite which was present in the tar of some pipe coverings in the 1960s to 1980s.  The evidence that this was true was lacking but we performed a health risk assessment nonetheless (winter, 2014).
  • Risk of disease posed by take home exposure of either chrysotile or amosite.  A number of cases involving this issue came to our attention in 2012-2015.  To address this matter, we conducted a series of “simulation studies” which were published in the peer reviewed literature in 2013-2015.  This was the first quantitative assessment of this matter.  (Sahmel, J., C.A. Barlow, S. Gaffney, H.J. Avens, A.K. Madl, J. Henshaw, K. Unice, D. Galbraith, G. DeRose, R.J. Lee, D. Van Orden, M. Sanchez, M. Zock, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2016.  Airborne asbestos take-home exposures during handling of chrysotile-contaminated clothing following simulated full shift workplace exposures. J Exp Sci Environ Epidemiol 26.48-62.; Sahmel, J., C.A. Barlow, B. Simmons, S.H. Gaffney, H.J. Avens, A.K. Madl, J. Henshaw, R.J. Lee, D. Van Orden, M. Sanchez, M. Zock, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2014.  Evaluation of take-home exposure and risk associated with the handling of clothing contaminated with chrysotile asbestos. Risk Anal. 34(8).1448-68.).
  • Asbestos in electrical components (1950-1980).  We were asked by a former manufacturer of electrical components made of both plastic and Bakelite, which contained chrysotile, whether it was plausible to be exposed to biologically relevant airborne concentrations of asbestos while manipulating these products (summer 2014).
  • Evaluated the comparative hazards of removing and not-removing asbestos containing floor tiles in nearly 500,000 apartments in New York City and Northern New Jersey.  We were asked whether the risks were greater with removing these tiles compared to the hazard associated with the cleaning/repair of these tiles going forward (e.g., leaving them in place) (winter 2012).
  • Hazard of housewives to asbestos in the 1950s-1980s.  Over the past five years, there has been a significant increase in the number of mesothelioma cases that are alleged to be associated with exposure to any form of asbestos due to “take home” exposures. From about 2007 to 2011, our firm has been studying this issue with respect to auto mechanics, pipefitters, insulators, phenolic molding compound manufacturers, dry wallers, and numerous other occupations, which have been claimed to pose a “take home” risk to family members. The definitive review on the topic was published in a peer reviewed journal in 2012.
  • Evaluated the possible “take home” exposure (and risks) of asbestos on clothing.  Beginning in mid-2011, we undertook research directed at evaluating the likelihood that biologically important quantities of asbestos might have routinely been taken home by workers who handled asbestos during the 1940-1960s era.  The evaluation attempted to assess the validity of various research efforts of the 1960s-1980s which indicated that only a limited quantity of respirable fibers which were present in contaminated clothing were likely to be released in the in-home environment. We funded the initial work and it was discussed at various scientific conferences in 2012 and 2015. (Donovan, E., B.L. Donovan, M.A. McKinley, D.M. Cowan, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2012. Evaluation of take home (para-occupational) exposure to asbestos and disease. A review of the literature. Crit Rev Tox. 42(9).703-731.).
  • Assessment of the human health hazard posed by asbestos containing floor tiles.  In mid-2011, we were retained to evaluate the historical and future health risks associated with living in apartments which had asbestos containing floor tiles manufactured from about 1935-1975. The assessment was used to resolve financial claims associated with renovating apartments which, in total, contained more than 10,000,000 square feet of these tiles. Publication is in progress in 2017
  • Assessed the possible hazard to airplane mechanics of brake wear debris from airplanes.  Like most brakes manufactured from 1910-1980s, asbestos was a major constituent of those used in airplanes.  In early 2011, we evaluated this hazard and attempted to quantitate the relative magnitude of historical exposure of these mechanics.
  • Assessing the risks of chips of asphalt covered asbestos fabric in soils.  During early 2011, our firm began quantifying the possible human health hazards associated with having various size scraps (usually less than 1 x 1”) of asbestos cloth (covered on one or two sides with mastic) present in soils predominately located in farm fields. These were present due to the removal of pipes which were part of the national oil pipeline. At the time, various early guidance was being developed to help direct such assessments. Many thousands of acres were potentially contaminated.
  • Assessed claims regarding the historical hazard posed by chrysotile fabric in radios and televisions produced between 1950-1975.  For some of these appliances, it was deemed appropriate to have one or more asbestos containing parts so as to minimize the likelihood of failure or a fire.  Some claims had been made that repairmen might have been at risk of developing asbestos related disease. Evaluation was conducted in 2010 and 2011.
  • Hazards of asbestos in airplanes.  In early 2009, our firm assessed for a major client the potential range of exposures to asbestos which might occur during the manufacture and repair of airplanes for the time period 1940-1985. This analyses needed to consider all aspects of exposure, with an emphasis on government knowledge (and Navy knowledge) of asbestos over time. The analysis of state-of-the-art issues was published in a peer-reviewed journal. 
  • Assessment of the hazard posed by asbestos in laboratory equipment.  In mid-2009, a major supplier of laboratory glassware and related items asked about the possible hazards associated with using metal meshwork pads (which contained asbestos and were used to be used with Bunsen burners) and then handling hot glassware with asbestos gloves. A simulation study may ultimately be performed.
  • Assessed the minimal lifetime cumulative dose of chrysotile needed to increase the risk of mesothelioma. Assembled the published literature and estimated the exposure of various cohorts to chrysotile. Determined that doses at least as high as those required to cause asbestosis were required to possibly increase the risk of mesothelioma; if chrysotile even had the capacity to do so.  Results were published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2008.
  • Evaluation of all available studies of asbestos air samples from on-board shipping vessels.  More than 100 vessels were studied in an attempt to determine if the presence of asbestos in intact insulation released measurable concentrations of fibers. Work was conducted in 2006 and was published in a peer-reviewed article in 2008.
  • Assessment of asbestos in glues, adhesives, coatings, and mastics (National).  In 2002, our firm was retained to assist Amchem, Inc. in characterizing the exposure and risks posed by asbestos in glues, coatings, mastics, and sealants. A simulation study was conducted, and the results were published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Publications

  • Hollins, D., A. Burns, K. Unice, and D. J. Paustenbach  2019.  An analysis of workplace exposures to asbestos at three steel mills located in the United States (1972-1982).  Tox and Ind Health  35 (11-12);  726-737.
  • Abelmann, A., J.R. Maskrey, J.T. Lotter, A.M. Chapman, M.D. Nembhard, J.S. Pierce, J.M. Wilmoth, R.J. Lee, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2018. Evaluation of take-home exposure to asbestos from handling asbestos-contaminated worker clothing following the abrasive sawing of cement pipe. Inhal Tox. 29(12-14):555-566. doi: 10.1080/08958378.2017.1418940.
  • Barlow, C.A., J. Sahmel, D.J. Paustenbach, and J.L. Henshaw. 2017. History of knowledge and evolution of occupational and health and regulatory aspects of asbestos exposure science: 1900-1975. Crit Rev Tox. 47(4):286-316.
  • Gaffney, S.H., M. Grespin, L. Garnick, D.A. Drechsel, R. Hazan, D.J. Paustenbach, and B.D. Simmons. 2017. Anthophyllite asbestos: State of the science review. J Appl Toxicol. 37:38-49.
  • Abelmann, A., M.E. Glynn, J.S. Pierce, P.K. Scott, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2016. Letter to the Editor: Authors’ response to Finkelstein’s letter to the editor regarding our recent review of ambient airborne asbestos concentrations (Abelmann et al. 2015). Inhal Tox. 28(13):581-582.
  • Sahmel, J., C.A. Barlow, S. Gaffney, H.J. Avens, A.K. Madl, J. Henshaw, K. Unice, D. Galbraith, G. DeRose, R.J. Lee, D. Van Orden, M. Sanchez, M. Zock, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2016. Airborne asbestos take-home exposures during handling of chrysotile-contaminated clothing following simulated full shift workplace exposures. J Exp Sci Environ Epidemiol 26:48-62.
  • Abelmann, A., M.E. Glynn, J.S. Pierce, P.K. Scott, S. Serrano and D.J. Paustenbach.  2015.  Historical ambient airborne asbestos concentrations in the United States – an analysis of published and unpublished literature (1960s–2000s).  Inhal Toxicol; 27(14):754–766
  • Sahmel, J., H.J. Avens, P.K. Scott, K. Unice, A. Burns, C.A. Barlow, A.K. Madl, J. Henshaw, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2015. Measured removal rates of chrysotile asbestos fibers from air and comparison with theoretical estimates based on gravitational settling and dilution ventilation. Inhal Tox. 27(14):787-801.
  • Sahmel, J., C.A. Barlow, B. Simmons, S.H. Gaffney, H.J. Avens, A.K. Madl, J. Henshaw, R.J. Lee, D. Van Orden, M. Sanchez, M. Zock, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2014. Evaluation of take-home exposure and risk associated with the handling of clothing contaminated with chrysotile asbestos. Risk Anal. 34(8):1448-68.
  • Barlow, C.A., L. Lievense, S. Gross, C.J. Ronk, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2013. The role of genotoxicity in asbestos-induced mesothelioma: An explanation for the differences in carcinogenic potential among fiber types. Inhal Tox. 25(9):553-567.
  • Donovan, E., B.L. Donovan, M.A. McKinley, D.M. Cowan, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2012. Evaluation of take home (para-occupational) exposure to asbestos and disease: A review of the literature. Crit Rev Tox. 42(9):703-731.
  • Finley, B.L., J.S. Pierce, A.D. Phelka, R.E. Adams, D.J. Paustenbach, K.A. Thuett, and C.A. Barlow. 2012. Evaluation of tremolite asbestos exposures associated with the use of commercial products. Crit Rev Toxicol. 42(2):119-146.
  • Franke, K. and D.J. Paustenbach.  2011. Government and Navy knowledge regarding health hazards of asbestos: A state of the science evaluation (1900 to 1970). Inhal Toxicol. 23(S3):1-20.
  • Donovan, E.P., B.L. Donovan, J. Sahmel, P.K. Scott, and D.J. Paustenbach.  2011. Evaluation of bystander exposures to asbestos in occupational settings: A review of the literature and application of a simple eddy diffusion model. Crit Rev Toxicol. 41(1):52-74.
  • Madl, A.K., S.H. Gaffney, J.L. Balzer, and D.J. Paustenbach.  2009.  Airborne asbestos concentrations associated with heavy equipment brake removal.  Ann Occup Hyg. 53(8):839-857.
  • Hollins, D.M., D.J. Paustenbach, K. Clark, and C.A. Mangold. 2009.  A Visual Historical Review of Exposure to Asbestos at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (1962-1972).  J Toxicol Env Health B. 12(2):124-56.
  • Richter, R.O., B.L. Finley, D.J. Paustenbach, P.R.D. Williams, and P.J. Sheehan. 2009. An evaluation of short-term exposures of brake mechanics to asbestos during automotive and truck brake cleaning and machining activities. Exp Sci Environ Epidemiol. 19(5):458-474.
  • Madl, A.K., L.L. Scott, D.M. Murbach, K.A. Fehling, B.L. Finley, and D.J. Paustenbach.  2008.  Exposure to chrysotile asbestos associated with unpacking and repacking boxes of automobile brake pads and shoes. Ann Occup Hyg. 52(6):463-479.
  • Murbach, D.M., A.K. Madl, K.M. Unice, J.S. Knutsen, P.S. Chapman, J.L. Brown, and D.J. Paustenbach.  2008.  Airborne concentrations of asbestos onboard maritime shipping vessels (1978-1992). Ann Occup Hyg. 52(4):267-279.
  • Pierce, J.S., M.A. McKinley, D.J. Paustenbach, and B.L. Finley.  2008.  An evaluation of reported no-effect chrysotile asbestos exposures for lung cancer and mesothelioma. Crit Rev Tox. 38(3):191-214.
  • Williams, P.R.D., A.D. Phelka, and D.J. Paustenbach.  2007.  A review of historical exposures to asbestos among skilled craftsmen (1940-2006). J Toxicol Environ Health Part B. 10(5):319-377.
  • Finley, B.L., R.O. Richter, F.S. Mowat, S. Mlynarek, D.J. Paustenbach, J.M. Warmerdam, and P.J. Sheehan.  2007.  Cumulative asbestos exposure for US automobile mechanics involved in brake repair (circa 1950s-2000). J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 17(7):644-655.
  • Williams, P., D.J. Paustenbach, J.L. Balzer, and C. Mangold.  2007.  Retrospective exposure assessment of airborne asbestos related to skilled craftsmen at a petroleum refinery in Beaumont, Texas (1940-2006). J Toxicol Environ Health. 70:1076-1107.
  • Madl, A.K., K. Clark and D.J. Paustenbach.  2007.  Exposure to airborne asbestos during removal and installation of gaskets and packings: A review of published and unpublished studies. J Toxicol Environ Health. 10(4):259-86.
  • Mangold C., K. Clark, A. Madl, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2006. An exposure study of bystanders and workers during the installation and removal of asbestos gaskets and packing. J Occup Environ Hyg. 3(2):87-98.
  • Paustenbach, D.J., A.K. Madl, K. Clark, K. Fehling, and T.C. Lee.  2006.  Chrysotile asbestos exposure associated with removal of automobile exhaust systems (ca. 1945-1975) by mechanics: Results of a simulation study.  J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 16(2):156-71.
  • Mowat, F., M. Bono, R.J. Lee, S. Tamburello, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2005. Occupational exposure to airborne asbestos from phenolic molding material (Bakelite) during sanding, drilling and related activities. J Occup Environ Hyg. 2(10):497-507.
  • Paustenbach, D.J., A. Sage, M. Bono, and F. Mowat. 2004. Occupational exposure to airborne asbestos from coatings, mastics, and adhesives. J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 14(3):234-44.
  • Paustenbach, D.J., B.L. Finley, E. Lu, G.P. Brorby, and P. Sheehan. 2004. Environmental and occupational health hazards associated with the presence of asbestos in brake linings and pads (1900 to present): A “state-of-the-art” review. J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 7(1):33-110.
  • Paustenbach, D.J., R.O. Richter, B.L. Finley, and P.J. Sheehan. 2003. An evaluation of the historical exposures of mechanics to asbestos in brake dust. App Occup Environ Hyg. 18(10):786-804.
  • Paustenbach, D.J. 1987.  Bhopal, asbestos, and Love Canal..how they should affect engineering education. IEEE Tech and Society Mag. (March) 6(1):9-15.