The city of Asbestos is situated in the Eastern Townships of Québec at the centre of a triangle formed by the cities of Quebec, Sherbrooke and Montreal. Asbestos wants to change its name. Asbestos as a town name has become politically dicey, embarrassing, toxic, but chiefly it's a lousy, persistent, economic burden.
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral such as chrysotile or actinolite easily made into long flexible strands formerly used where incombustible, nonconducting, or chemically resistant material was needed, until science discovered asbestos causes cancer in persons exposed to it over long periods of time.
Asbestos has been mined from the gigantic Jeffrey pit for more than 100 years. One of a handful of substances conclusively proven to be a human carcinogen, asbestos causes cancer, big time. Actinolite is a rare form of asbestos whose needle-like fibers make it a potent lung invasive and carcinogen. Other forms of asbestos in the amphobile group are considered especially dangerous because the fibers are hard for the lungs to expel. The amphobile family of asbestos is also more likely to become airborne than the chrysotile asbestos. Asbestos becomes a health hazard when it becomes lodged in the lungs. The major health risks linked to asbestos are asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs; meso-thelioma, a cancer of the lung and chest linings; other lung cancers and nonmalignant lung and pleural disorders. Does science feel this? Think this? Science KNOWS this! Want to read medical proof of the toxic potency of asbestos? Begin at this website for Hazards magazine. http://www.hazards.org/asbestos/
But here for the questing mind to contemplate is a picture of a cancerous lung.
In this pleural mesothelioma, a cross-sectional slice of lung from a cadaver, the dense white encircling malignant tumor mass arises, as its name implies, from the visceral pleura. Mesothelium is a membrane that forms the lining of several body cavities including the pleura. The pleura is the thin covering that protects and cushions the lungs. The pleura is made up of two layers of mesothelial tissue that are separated by a small amount of serous fluid. This slippery “lung-bag” minimizes frictional wear as one breathes in and out moving the lungs. One malignant tumor of this membrane is a mesothelioma, a big bulky tumor that can fill the chest cavity. It is almost exclusively caused by the inhalation and deposition in lung tissue of asbestos fibres.
For an excellent overview,
in clear English, of mesothelioma,
its symptoms & treatments,
click below to visit this site:
Now the citizens of Asbestos, Quebec, wish to change the name of their fair hamlet. The word asbestos has become tainted in the public mind with nasty things like tumours and death. Awww! One local Quebec official says it’s all because nitpicky Americans have a phobia about asbestos. Not quite, mon vieux. The word phobia implies an irrational and unfounded fear of something. Fear of asbestos is about as rational and smart as a human being might get. So you can dump the phobia palaver. The danger is real, monsieur.
In 1989 asbestos was banned. Too late, as usual. Widely used during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in various building materials as a thermal insulator for walls, flooring, ceilings, insulation, roofing, fireproofing and automotive products, asbestos dust was also found in packaging and even wallpaper tiles and various other acoustic soundproofing products.
Now that most North American and European construction legislation has banned totally the use of asbestos in human habitation, what have Canada asbestos miners and manufacturers done with 95% of our Canadian asbestos? Guess! Sold it and shipped it off to the third world to use in its building projects, markets in Thailand, Singapore, Brazil, India and other developing nations.
Most of Canada’s toxic asbestos goes to Asian countries. But it’s all okey-dokey, say the many government-sponsored “safety” agencies. The asbestos industry says it promotes safe use of its products, and that the deaths and disease caused by asbestos use in the United States and Europe during the past century will not be repeated elsewhere in decades to come. Modern manufacturing processes are well-ventilated, producing minimal dust, industry defenders say. But medical experts worry that workers in those countries ultimately will develop lung afflictions that will sicken or kill them. Asbestos critics scoff at such safety claims. They cite unventilated factories in Brazil and other places. Some offer as proof slides of children in India exposed to dust produced by men sawing asbestos. Though there is deep disagreement over the current safety of and need for asbestos products, both sides on this debate agree on one thing: Asbestos can kill.
Still we have our petit problème in Quebec. They need a new name to cover up what has been mined there for more than 100 years. Local suggestions include Trois Lacs (Three Lakes) and the upbeat Phoenix, wherein locals hope the guiltless town will rise again, squawking and flapping its asbestos-dust-free wings as it soars through Quebec skies to glory.
Your humble deponent, Bill Casselman, would like to offer some new names too, just to be hell-pful. How about Sweet Lung, Quebec ? Or Pas de Cancer icette, mes copains? We could go for the nom faux-aborigène. You know, make the town name sound like an ancient Iroquois burial ground and redub it...
Etymology of the Word Asbestos
Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Dictionary,Unabridged (2002) gives a superb etymology quoted below:
“Middle English asbestus mineral supposed to be inextinguishable when set on fire, alteration (influenced by Latin & Greek asbestos) of albestron, probably from Middle French, alteration (probably influenced by Latin albus white) of abeston, from Medieval Latin asbeston, alter of Latin asbestos, from Greek, unslaked lime, from asbestos inextinguishable, unextinguished, from a- not(alpha privative)- + (assumed) sbestos, verbal of sbennynai to quench, extinguish; akin to Lithuanian gesti to be extinguished, Sanskrit jasate he is exhausted and perhaps to Old High German quist annihilation, Gothic qistjan to destroy, Tocharian B käs- to pass out of existence.”
We'll conclude our asbestolatry with one final medical diagram for your delectation and perusal.
© 2012 copyight William Gordon Casselman
Check the fascinating origin
of these medical words
defined in my medical dictionary:
Reviews of my Book
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A Great New Review of My Latest Book!
October 26, 2011
Welcome to the Enchanted Forest
By WB Johnston
This review is about Bill Casselman’s latest e-book about words: Where a Dobdob Meets a Dikdik: A Word Lover’s Guide to the Weirdest, Wackiest, and Wonkiest Lexical Gems (Kindle Edition)
“Wade Davis, lately of National Geographic, once described each living language as “an old-growth forest of the human spirit.” Once you decide to enter the kleptomaniacal woods of our mother tongue, what you need is more than a tour guide. This is no Disney-fied ‘keep-your-hands-inside-the-car-at all-times’, point A to point B, clear-cutting mining of language. You, here, are in the hands of Sir William of Cassel, a genuine shaman modestly posing as a simple lover of words.
Leave it on your desk at work and trust that someone will riffle through it when you are out at lunch. Shamans are magicians of the highest order. The work of their hands and hearts is game-changing. Or, hey, put it on your Kindle and just feel comforted that you can wander back out into the forest with Bill even in the middle of a boring lecture.
(Casselman replies: Thank you so much, Dr. J., for the kudos.)
Jenni French of San Francisco, California writes on her blog “My Corner of the Universe” for March 19, 2011:
Casselman, Bill. Where a Dobdob Meets a Dikdik: A World Lover’s Guide to the Weirdest, Wackiest, and Wonkiest Lexical Gems. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2010.
And the author has quite a way with words, so I have found myself rereading many sentences in this book and slowing my progress through it.
My current favorite sentence is found in a discussion of dog hybrid breed names: “What a revolting concatenation of cutesiness and smarmy nomenclatorial treacle parading under the name of canine hybrid breed names” (19).
I’m sure I’ll have another favorite sentence in a day or two.
This book is just that good and just that entertaining.”
(Author Bill Casselman replies: “Thanks, Jenni!” )
Just a reminder that this book contains my ALL-NEW word essays, none of which are available anywhere else in print or online.
Cindy Lapeña on her blog “Creativity Unlimited” of July 19 ,2011, writes:
Posted by mimrlith in 365 Things to Look Forward to.
19. Starting a book
To a certified bibliophile like me, a.k.a. bookworm, one of the most exciting things to look forward to is to start reading a new book. In fact, sometimes the prospect of starting to read a new book is so exciting that I have to hurry to finish the book I am currently reading, just so I can start a new one.
If there’s one thing I can’t resist, it’s a book, especially if it promises to be a good one. Of course there are certain books I just won’t touch or be seen with, but at the risk of being hung by my thumbs by fans of such literature, I will not mention any genres in particular. . .
Seeing a book with a title that totally captivates me, like Where a Dobdob meets a Dikdik (yes, that is a book title!) has me so worked up, I just can’t wait to dive in. I imagine all sorts of deliciously fancifully outrageous words with a title like that. Is it obvious? I just love books on words. You won’t believe how many dictionaries I own. Or books on lexical oddities and other lexical explorations. Yes, I am a logophile of sorts. I love the new words I pick up from new books. I relish finding out the meanings of all manner of words and phrases and expressions. What could be more fun?”
(Replies author Bill Casselman: Please scroll to bottom of page or click here to link to a free seven-page preview of my book, Where a Dobdob Meets a Dikdik.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Dear Mr. Casselman,
. . . I revisited the paraprosdokian page, and have finally quit laughing again at “Casselman’s Conclusion.” You were not unkind to the “profligate prof-lets.” During my years as an acquisitions editor, in rejection letters I often quoted Prof. Moses Hadas, classicist at Columbia University, who wrote a young scholar in response to having been sent the prof-let’s first book, “Thank you for sending me your book. I will waste no time reading it.”