Russian scientist uses deceptive tactics in seeking to overturn bans on asbestos

Wed, Mar 23, 2016


Kathleen Ruff,

Russian scientist, Sergei Jargin, recently published an article stating that bans and restrictions on asbestos are based on scientific research that lacks objectivity and independence.

Banning asbestos is scientifically unjustified, argues Jargin. New independent research should be done. After new research has been carried out, bans and restrictions on asbestos should be re-examined and potentially revised, states Jargin.

Every reputable scientific organisation in the world that has researched the issue of asbestos has concluded that all asbestos causes harm, that there is no safe exposure level, that safe use is not possible and that use of asbestos should stop. These organisations include, among others, the World Health Organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the Collegium Ramazzini, the International Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology, the World Federation of Public Health Associations, the Union for International Cancer Control and the International Commission on Occupational Health.

According to Jargin, their conclusions should be rejected.

Jargin provides no evidence to substantiate his allegation

Jargin was asked to provide evidence to substantiate his extraordinary allegation that the recommendation of the world scientific community to stop asbestos use is based on biased and unreliable research.

Jargin provided no evidence.

Instead, Jargin denied that he had argued that the conclusions of these organisations lack independent evidence and should be rejected. This is, however, exactly what he argues in his article, Asbestos-Related Research: First Objectivity then Conclusions and in an earlier article, Asbestos and its substitutes: International coordination and independent research needed, which stated: “In conclusion, bans and restrictions applied by some countries to the asbestos trade, manufacturing and use should be revised on the basis of independent research.”

Jargin argues to get rid of asbestos bans

Furthermore, even though Jargin says in his article that no conclusions on banning asbestos should be made until after new research is done, he himself has already adopted a conclusion. He argues in favour of continued asbestos use, against any bans on asbestos and calls for an international compromise with asbestos-producing countries such as Russia:

  • “The problem should be seen realistically: we contact with numerous carcinogens and other noxious factors. All of them cannot be banned. Asbestos-like fibers are needed by the industry. The substitutes would be probably dangerous as well. So the mainstream must be objective research, precautions and safety regulations, not total bans and prohibitions.”
  • “If developed countries continue prohibiting asbestos, others (including Russia) will continue producing and selling it. So, an international compromise should be strived for.”
  • “In some less developed countries the alternative to asbestos production and use would be unemployment; so they would be better helped when assisted in safety measures and technologies, not by bans and prohibitions.”

Jargin’s arguments against banning asbestos are the same as those of the asbestos industry and the Government of Russia, which produces over 50% of the global asbestos supply and aggressively opposes bans or restrictions on asbestos.

Not a single reputable scientific organisation in the world supports Jargin’s arguments for continued asbestos use.

Jargin’s article is, however, extremely helpful to the asbestos industry and the continuation of the asbestos trade.

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One Response to “Russian scientist uses deceptive tactics in seeking to overturn bans on asbestos”

  1. Sergei V. Jargin Says:

    There are different types of asbestos and artificial fibers used as asbestos substitutes being not necessarilly (much) safer than asbestos. To compare potential harm from different fibers, researchers must be free from conflicts of interest. There are strong industrial interests behind the asbestos-related research. Even those who relentlessly struggle against asbestos might be not free from conflicts of interest e.g. by lawyers’ earnings from asbestos
    litigation or interests of construction firms performing asbestos removal associated with exposures of abatement workers. More details: Jargin SV (2013) Russian Opinion on Asbestos: All Fibers Equal. Environment and Ecology Research, 1 , 79 – 83. doi: 10.13189/eer.2013.010209.

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