The Mesothelioma Researcher That Got Caught Up In the Asbestos Industry

In 1960, J.C. Wagner, a British pathologist published a groundbreaking report that connected asbestos exposure and mesothelioma for the first time. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the tissue that lines the lungs, abdomen, and sometimes the heart. There is currently no effective cure for the disease.

Wagner’s report led to many other scientific studies that provided supporting evidence of the link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma.

The evidence revealed that there was substantial risk associated with mining, transporting, or manufacturing products that contained asbestos.

Wagner’s Findings

Wagner’s report led to a crackdown on the use of asbestos in the United States and upgrades safety standards in the U.K. Around 30 years after he published his report, Wagner reversed course, stating that mesothelioma was not caused by asbestos exposure.

It was later revealed that Wagner had perjured himself when he made the statement that asbestos exposure and mesothelioma were not related and it was revealed that he was being paid by many of the manufacturers who were producing products that contained asbestos.

Asbestos Industry Fights Wagner’s Initial Claims

During the period of time when Wagner was defending his own research, companies all over the world were doing their best to discredit the evidence, and even threaten his life. It was rumored that the asbestos industry in Johannesburg, South Africa threatened to have Wagner shot.

There are three types of asbestos: chrysotile (which is white), amosite (brown), and crocidolite (blue) that were produced. During the 19th century, most of the asbestos produced was chrysotile. The asbestos industry tried to fool the public by stating that only the blue version of asbestos was dangerous or toxic. The blue form of asbestos (crocidolite) only made up about ten percent of the total asbestos product produced, nevertheless, this debate went on for years.

Wagner’s Many Industrial Friends

In 1990, Wagner said under oath that even prolonged and extensive exposure to asbestos had no connection to mesothelioma. During a cross-examination, Wagner disclosed that he was being paid to endorse these industrial giants.

Wagner even went so far as to undermine his own research by stating that several of his subjects, about twenty percent, had mesothelioma caused by other circumstances, having nothing to do with asbestos exposure.

A decade later, it was discovered that Wagner was again being paid by another manufacturer, a sum of $300,000 over the course of 15 years. Wagner denied this claim under oath as well, perjuring himself for the second time.

Doubts About Asbestos Toxicity

All the inconsistencies from J.C. Wagner regarding the toxicity and health risks associated with asbestos have delayed any ban on the dangerous mineral.

This uncertainty allows the industry to continue manufacturing products with asbestos, claiming there is no justification for a ban.

A ban on asbestos could ultimately prevent serious health conditions from surfacing in future decades, but it will not come until there is no longer a debate over its toxicity or connection to mesothelioma.

The Mesothelioma Researcher That Got Caught Up In the Asbestos Industry