There is incontrovertible evidence that exposure to asbestos cause asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other life threatening diseases. There is also irrefutable evidence that since the early part of the 20th century the asbestos industry has been fully aware that there is a definite link between asbestos and cancer.
In addition, there is incontestable evidence that the asbestos industry chose to protect their profits rather than make this information known to the general public. Some of this evidence can be found in what has come to be known as “The Sumner Simpson Papers.”
Saranac Laboratory is Hired to Research the Effects of Asbestos Dust
The Saranac Laboratory, located in the Adirondack Mountain region of upstate New York, had been doing research on dusts since the early 1920s. In 1936 a number of asbestos companies jointly funded Saranac to do research for them. They subsequently renewed their annual contract with Saranac Laboratory for the next ten years.
Part of what Saranac found was that there was a link between being exposed to asbestos and cancer.
In January 1947 the companies that funded the Saranac research met.
It has been discerned that the companies decided that “there would be no publication of the research of experiments without consent,” and that anything that would be published “would not include any objectionable material.” They specifically referred to, “any relation between asbestos and cancer.”
The conglomerate that funded Saranac agreed that “the reference to cancer and tumors should be deleted” from the report. Consequently, when Saranac’s report about their dust experiments was published, evidence that linked asbestos exposure to cancer was suppressed.
The Sumner Simpson Papers
From the 1930s through the 1940s Sumner Simpson was president of Raybestos-Manhattan, Inc.
In 1935, in correspondence to an attorney for Johns-Manville Corporation, Vandiver Brown, Simpson, when commenting on the asbestos industry, wrote “the less said about asbestos, the better off we are.”
Simpson also pressured trade industry publications to follow the dictates of the asbestos industry’s decisions. The publisher of Asbestos Magazine wrote Simpson a letter in 1939 which, when referring to asbestosis, said, “Always you have requested that for certain obvious reasons we publish nothing, and naturally, your wishes have been respected.”
In 1941 Vandiver Brown, who had become a corporate officer of Johns-Manville Corporation, wrote, “I felt there was considerable likelihood that a number of subscribers would dislike an article on this subject in the trade magazine of the asbestos industry. I had in mind the ostrich-like attitude which has been evidenced from time to time by members of the industry.”
The corporate cover up continued for decades.
How Did the Asbestos Industry Feel About Its Workers?
How the industry felt about its workers was probably best summed up in a document in 1966 written by the Director of Purchases for Bendix Corporation, E.A. Martin. In it he said:
“My answer to the problem is: if you have enjoyed a good life while working with asbestos products why not die from it. There’s got to be some cause.”