It is unlikely that any more scientific information on the asbestos
risk than is already available will alter the current understanding of
the ubiquitous nature of asbestos.
Rational decisions must be contemplated on cost benefit and risk analysis.
However, no additional or further risk to the community is acceptable.
The general community, not scientists, will have to decide on the level
of acceptable asbestos risk, which they are prepared to live with. Since
it is impossible to scientifically prove or disprove that a very low level
of exposure to asbestos will cause malignant cancers, the only option
available is zero exposure or as low as practically possible.
The predicament confronting companies like James Hardie, CSR and other
asbestos multi-national corporations has changed dramatically in recent
years due to successful damages/compensation claims by former workers
(the issues of negligence were resolved by the Australian courts).
Since it would appear that a favorable public opinion is crucial for the
sustained profitability and share-capital growth of former asbestos corporations,
they should openly demonstrate their willingness to settle all genuine
compensation claims without resorting to time-consuming litigation and
to generously contribute towards asbestos diseases medical research.
Also former asbestos industry should generously sponsor medical research
into asbestos-caused diseases.
Asbestos issues are clearly a test of the Australian community's resolve
to control the increasing number of insidious harmful materials to which
workers and the public in general are still being unnecessarily exposed.