High rise fireproofing and asbestos regulation

In todays New York Times the deadly aftermath of banning chrysotile asbestos is finally beginning to see the light of day.

Finally Building code group admits need for better fireproofing...


"Fireproofing for steel columns, to prevent a structural collapse, would have to be nearly three times stronger in high rises up to 35 stories and seven times stronger for even taller towers, making it less likely to fall off."

Chrysotile asbestos fireproofing (MonoKote) that was used prior to it's ban in 1973 would meet any new standards easily. The type of asbestos used in 99 percent of buildings using asbestos was shown to be non hazardous by a thorough prospective and earlier retrospective study done by McDonald et al ol, McDonald studied the incidence of mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestos in miners millers and the communities of three mining towns in canada, (Chrysotile), South Africa(Amosite), and Australia(Crocidilite) asbestos. The three types of asbestos have completely different chemistry and geometry and therefore completely different health risks. McDonald showed that Chrysotile has no detectable risk for asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Amosite Asbestos presented a very high risk of all three diseases and Crocidolite was a death sentence to anyone exposed in an occupational setting.

Nevertheless Chrysotile was banned from fireproofing along with all other asbestos form rocks by the New York health department when the towers werealready built out to 54 stories. A substitute was rushed to market that was only tested in an oven with still air. In the subsequent years, much of the remaining chrysotile was removed by the Port Authority. The inventor of asbestos fireproofing from Johns Manville has been quoted as saying at the time that if there is ever a major fire above the 54th floor of the World trade Center, the building will fail.

This is the first official recognition that the substitute fire proofing is inadequate.

Unfortunately, even with the work of Mc Donald, the environmental authorities can never admit an error and allow chrysotile to be legalized.

This is a classic example of a type two regulatory error. Regulating a non hazard. Had chrysotile fireproofing been present in the world trade center buildings, they may well have remained standing for a longer time allowing for less loss of life. Perhaps the fires may have been more contained or stairwells survived longer.

Why has it taken the standards people over 5 years to face the reality of the inadequate fireproofing?

Will the intellectual dishonesty of the regulators who insisted on lumping Chrysotile asbestos with the deadly types of asbestos ever be revealed? Will the environmental regulators ever be held accountable. Will anything be done about all the highrises where inferior subbstitue fireproofing is installed?

How many more will have to die?

Philip Berg

Industrial Hygienist M.S. ( Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health 1979

The Supreme Court has stricken a significant component
of the McCain-Feingold Act that restricts the free
speech of grassroots organizations like ours to add
our voices to the debate. The posturing suggests that
most of the Act will be (rightly) judged

The good news for us? Our messaging strategy will not
be compromised by old-party efforts to censor
alternative viewpoints. So we may be able to actually
say "call your congressman and tell him to vote no on
insert-crappy-bill-here." :wink:

Bloomberg article on the judgment is attached below.
It's interesting to see that one of the groups
targeted by the federal government with the
McCain-Feingold law was a group that was critical of
Feingold, isn't it?!?



Campaign Ad Limits Loosened By U.S. Supreme Court
By Greg Stohr

June 25 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court gave
companies, labor unions and interest groups more power
to run broadcast ads before elections, limiting the
reach of a federal campaign-finance law.

The 5-4 ruling today marks a shift for the court,
which in 2003 upheld the law, including a provision
that restricts pre- election ads. The court today said
that provision couldn't be constitutionally applied to
three 2004 ads, aired by a Wisconsin anti-abortion
group, that called on the U.S. Senate to hold votes on
President George W. Bush's judicial nominees.

``Discussion of issues cannot be suppressed simply
because the issues may also be pertinent in an
election,'' Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the
court. ``Where the First Amendment is implicated, the
tie goes to the speaker, not the censor.''

The ruling underscores the influence of Roberts and
fellow Bush appointee Samuel Alito, who joined the
chief justice's opinion. The three other justices in
the majority -- Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and
Anthony Kennedy -- said they would have gone further
by overturning the 2003 ruling and striking down the
so-called electioneering provision.

In dissent, Justice David Souter said the court had in
effect overturned the 2003 decision and its effort to
limit the role of money in political campaigns.

``After today, the ban on contributions by
corporations and unions and the limitation on their
corrosive spending when they enter the political arena
are open to easy circumvention,'' Souter wrote.
Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and
Stephen Breyer joined him in dissent.

Feingold Candidacy

The ads by Wisconsin Right to Life Inc. referred to
Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, who was up for
re-election and joined Senate efforts to block votes
on Bush's judicial nominees. Feingold, along with
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, was also
one of the principal sponsors of the 2002 campaign-
finance law.

Wisconsin Right to Life, which also opposes euthanasia
and embryonic stem cell research, pulled its ads after
three weeks because of legal concerns.

The McCain-Feingold law bars corporations and labor
unions from using funds from their general treasuries
to buy pre- election broadcast ads that target
specific federal candidates.

Roberts said the Wisconsin commercials were entitled
to an exemption from that ban because they ``plainly
are not the functional equivalent of express
advocacy'' for or against a candidate.

PAC Money

The electioneering ban applies only to money in the
general treasuries of corporations and labor unions,
not to funds handled by their separate political
action committees. The law also contains an exemption
for some non-profit corporations. The Wisconsin group
didn't qualify for the exemption.

The Supreme Court has said lawmakers can restrict
election- related spending in the name of preventing
corruption, protecting the integrity of the voting
process and preserving public confidence in the
government. Roberts today said none of those
rationales warranted application of the law to the
Wisconsin ads.

The case marked the third time the Supreme Court
addressed the so-called electioneering provision. In
2003, the court upheld the ban as part of a broader
ruling that backed the campaign finance overhaul. Last
year the court clarified that ruling by saying it
didn't prevent Wisconsin Right to Life from
challenging the applicability of the restriction to
particular ads.

The Bush administration argued in favor of applying
the law to the Wisconsin ads. The administration said
the ads began running days after the last Senate vote
on the filibusters that blocked consideration of
several of Bush's judicial nominees.

The cases are Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin
Right to Life, 06-969, and Federal Election Commission
V. Wisconsin Right to Life, 06-970.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in
Washington at gstohr@... .