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Asbestos, Term Paper Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1534

Term Paper

Introduction

The following research assesses  how literature on asbestos depicts the way people view asbestos as well as the roles asbestos plays in shaping environment-society relations. The analysis details governance, socionatures, discursive framing, and the political economy of asbestos in society. Political economy is recognized as the interaction between law, economics, and politics, and  it details the way institutions establish respective policies within different economic and social systems. In respect to asbestos, the political economy of asbestos is developed through the actual use of the substance  within the construction industry. The literature on the substance shows it contributes to  cancer development. The following will assess the the social conflict and environmental discourse that stems out of this consideration. Asbestos is the common term used to describe fibrous silicate minerals, which are composed of magnesium, calcium, iron, and sodium. These components are commonly grouped in two categories, mainly,  “amphibole (e.g. amosite, crocidolite, and tremolite) and serpentine (e.g. chrysotile” (World Health Organization, 1996). The physiological properties of chrysotile provide for strong acids to conveniently degrade the compound. On the other hand, amphiboles are more resistant to decomposition. This is the reason why different forms of asbestos are resistant to alkali heat, making them highly in flexible and enhancing their tensile strength (World Health Organization, 1996). These physiological factors are what contribute to asbestos’s widespread industrial application as a construction material. The substance is most commonly used for piping, sheeting and thermal insulation (World Health Organization, 1996). The problem the following research will address deals with the fact that safety inspectors recognize that asbestos workers frequently suffer from bronchial and respiratory problems, which tend to lead to numerous premature deaths. The following will assess how this factor has affected the governance and political economy of the substance from an environmental standpoint.

Body

In respect to the governance of asbestos, numerous laws, EPA Policy Directives, and regulations have been implemented to for environmental concerns, specifically as it relates to governing the public’s exposure to the substance.

The table above details of all laws drafted to govern the substance in the past few decades since its rampant use. On December 11th, 1980, Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).. It was drafted with the intention of taxing chemical and petroleum industries in their use and release of asbestos. The law was used as a federal authority to govern the use and release of the substance within the industry in an attempt to protect the public and environment from unnecessary exposure. The law was based on the fact that the federal government felt the release of asbestos could be potentially hazardous to the environment and endanger the health of the public. CERCLA garnered over $1.6 billion in tax revenue over a fiver year period after enacting the law.  Pretty (2007) notes that the events that happen in the environment don’t just influence  what authors write on the topic of asbestos but they also impact the discourse on the subject that culminates within society. . In regards to asbestos, Rosell-Murphy et al. (2013) notes that,“an improved understanding of asbestos-related illnesses should enhance i) the clinical and epidemiological transcriptions of patients in this state; ii) the design of new management strategies; iii) and the improvement of preventive actions” (Rosell-Murphy et al. 2013). The authors further point out that the participation of communities on the issue stems from the severity of impact asbestos is perceived to have on the environment and society. As more reports are published detailing the cancerous effect asbestos has on workers and its prevailing use in school structure development, communities petition and develop organizations to campaign against the environmental risks that the substance poses. There are also more policies being enacted to enhance education on the topic.

In 1954, a study was run by Richard Doll, a member of the  Statistical Research Unit, Medical Research Council in London to evaluate the relation between asbestos and causes of lung cancer in work environments. This study was one of the  first executed by the Medical Research Council in London. It was also one of the first studies to confirm a direct connection between asbestos  and cancer. The study revealed that 61 individuals with exposure to asbestos in the workplace also had lung cancer. The finding reaffirmed the belief that workers exposed to asbestos are highly more likely to develop lung cancer. The study further stated that “since 1935, records have been collected of all the coroners’ necropsies on persons known to have been employed at a large asbestos works. Pathological diagnoses in 105 consecutive cases are detailed below in the first table and details for the case that demonstrate the impact asbestos played on causing cases of cancer is summarized in the second table” (Doll, 1954).

The information demonstrates that asbestos has a significant impact on the development of cancer, as well as the development of other issues like tuberculosis, and heart failure. Table3 below reveals that a large number of people currently diagnosed with lung cancer, who also have asbestos in their lungs, were on the verge of death within the past year.

Studies like the one above attribute to the current common understanding within communities that asbestos is a hazardous substance and they further reinforce the belief that the common use of asbestos as a supplement for construction projects needs to be reduced.  Despite the studies that reveal asbestos exposure in work environment is a direct cause of lung cancer, there have been very few studies on the impact of asbestos when its taken orally.  The World Health Organization stated that “foods that contain soil particles, dust, or dirt probably contain asbestos fibres; crude estimates suggest that the intake of asbestos in food may be significant in comparison with that in drinking-water (12). Concentrations of 0.151 MFL and 4.3–6.6 MFL in beer and 1.7–12.2 MFL in soft drinks have been reported (13)” (World Health Organization, 1996). The  World Health Organization goes on to note that despite asbestos is recognized as a carcinogen when inhaled, there is no current research to support the notion that if asbestos is ingested it is equally as hazardous to one’s health. The report finds that as there are e no feeding studies in animals to find cases where the ingestion of asbestos has consistently resulted in increased tumors in the gastrointestinal tract, it means there are no grounds to establish policy that would provide for the regulation of drinking water or food products as it relates to asbestos.

Conclusion

In sum, asbestos continues to create a problem in different levels of human life, specifically as it relates to exposure to potentially cancer causing elements.  This is especially true within the working industry, such as construction and other infrastructural and developmental environments.  A wide range of respective governmental and legislative bodies throughout the world have enacted policies to govern  and regulate the use of asbestos and reduce the risk of its hazardous impact on the environment. Families and individuals negatively impacted by asbestos also fuel the debate reinforcing the drive behind many policies.  Asbestos is regarded as a natural substance which means its impact is  manifested in natural environments, but also its influences can be seen on the social level within society and communities through debate and discourse leading to policies and regulations associated with the substance. The social level of society is understood to mean the consensus of the populous regarding the substance and the social stigma related to asbestos is such that the substance is viewed as a considerably hazardous material with an urgent need for reduction and removal from society and the environment.   The data shows that there is a high prevalence of asbestos in work environments that has resulted in cancer cases in numerous workers.  The disposal  asbestos is also  a ,major concern for the safety of the population and the environment.  The above research has detailed the wide range of analysis that is currently prevalent within the epistemology of asbestos and its impact on society and the environment.   The report has also demonstrated the role that legislation has played in the governance of asbestos use. This can especially be seen in the role legislators play in their attempts to satisfy the public’s environmental safety concners as they relate to asbestos use.

References

CERCLA (1986). Amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). U.S. House of Representatives U.S. Code – Title 42

Camplin, J. (2003). Asbestos. “second wind” brings contaminant into public eye. 48(8), pp.32-39

Catt, R. (1988). Asbestos. Structural Survey. 6(1), 34-38.

Doll, R. (1993). Mortality from lung cancer in asbestos workers 1955. British journal of industrial medicine, 50(6), 485.

EPI. (2014). Table of Laws and Regulations. (Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/superfund/asbestos/compendium/laws_leg.html)

Hassett, K.A., Shapiro R. J., & Wallison, P. (2005). Assessing the Economic Impact of Proposed Asbestos Legislation: A Reconsideration of the Evidence.

Hadlock, C. J., & Sonti, R. (2012). Financial Strength and Product Market Competition: Evidence from Asbestos Litigation. Journal Of Financial & Quantitative Analysis, 47(1), 179-211

Pretty, J. N., Sage Publications., & Sage eReference (Online service). (2007). The SAGE handbook of environment and society. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Sakai, K., Hisanaga, N., Shibata, E., Kamijima, M., Ichihara, G., Takeuchi, Y., & Nakajima, T. (2014). Trends in Asbestos and Non-asbestos Fibre Concentrations in the Lung Tissues of Japanese Patients with Mesothelioma. Annals Of Occupational Hygiene, 58(1), 103-120.

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