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Biological Effects Of Asbestos: New York Academy Of Sciences 1964.
Published 2003 · Medicine
BACKGROUND In 1964, the New York Academy of Sciences held a conference on asbestos that was to promote the slow decline in the fortunes of asbestos. It brought together a Who's Who of international scientists who had conducted and reported on experimental and human studies of the effects of asbestos. Very little new data were presented at the conference, but by bringing together a compendium of knowledge of the adverse effects of asbestos, it served further notice to asbestos-using industry of the major public health problem that they had created. With the assistance of its employees and certain scientists, industry mounted public relations exercises to counter the adverse publicity of lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma. Attempts were made to minimize the impact of these diseases by suggesting that their alleged associations with asbestos were spurious, and by diversionary ad hominem attacks on Professor Irving J. Selikoff who had played an important role in the organization of the conference. METHODS Consideration of the contents of the meeting program, other previously published information and documents revealed through legal discovery by Chase Manhattan Bank provide the sources on which this paper is based. CONCLUSIONS Today, asbestos is no longer seen as a material indispensable on technical grounds and a mainstay of industry and the economy. Its progressive banning in developed countries may be seen as the consequence of the momentum initiated in New York in 1964.