A Slow Death in Texas

Asbestos Mortality on the rise in the Lone Star State

February 14, 2005

A Slow Death in Texas: About This Report

"A Slow Death in Texas" has its origins in literally dozens of EWG investigations and projects on toxic substance exposure, control and regulation, a central topic of our organization for the past ten years. EWG is a 501(c)(3) organization related to EWG Action Fund. EWG's focus on asbestos originated six years ago in an EWG examination of data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on the major environmental exposure risks affecting American workers. Asbestos exposure and risk topped the list that emerged from that research, which was funded by The Joyce Foundation and formed the cornerstone of the analyses EWG Action Fund presents in this report on the ongoing epidemic, mainly among older, male workers, of asbestos-caused diseases. Research on the nature of those diseases, and their link to a 'body burden' of asbestos fibers, was supported by a number of foundations, principally The Beldon Fund, the Mitchell Kapor Foundation, the Jennifer Altman Fund, and the Rockefeller Family Foundation. Several of those foundations, along with The Winslow Foundation, supported the development of EWG's Chemical Industry Archives project, which enabled us to analyze and post online the damning internal documents from the asbestos industry and its insurers, and to examine the numerous flaws of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

None of those flaws is more disconcerting than the failed EPA effort to ban asbestos in the late 1980s. Of the dozens of case histories of industrial pollution that EWG has developed through the Archives over the past five years, none shocked or angered us more than the story of cold, calculating indifference to human life that emerges from the memos, correspondence and studies of the asbestos industries and their insurance companies.

"A Slow Death in Texas" would not have been possible without the financial, intellectual and material support of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA). The present analyses was made possible in part by a grant from the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. While this support is modest in the context of investments in EWG toxics work made by other funders over more than a decade, it enabled us to put the most accurate numbers yet on the scope of the asbestos public health problem, nationally, and in Texas. While we might disagree with ATLA and TTLA and some of its members on some aspects of public policy as it pertains to America's asbestos tragedy, we are deeply appreciative of this support.