On asbestos and Hanna High School cancer cluster

by Wm. Robert Johnston
2 October 2000

Dear Editor:

Let's review some medical facts that apply to the situation at Hanna High School:

We cannot rule out that a proper study could find some common cause other than asbestos. The Texas Department of Health is initiating such a study, and this is a reasonable response. But any common cause may not even be from Hanna. Also, a common cause that is airborne is more likely to produce similar types of cancer with a consistent trend over time.

I have been "exposed" to Hanna for six years--three years as a student and three as a teacher. I am concerned that the time and taxpayer expense of a federal investigation may distract from addressing any real problems--airborne allergens being an important example. I also hate to see the district pushed to remove the asbestos immediately, when the removal itself could create a risk where there is little or none.

(printed in The Brownsville Herald 12 October 2000)

© 2000, 2003 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 8 March 2003.
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