Your Feb. 13 editorial Judging Asbestos does a great disservice to the thousands of Americans who become cancer victims every year due to asbestos exposure.

You suggest that the asbestos bankruptcies are a concoction of unscrupulous trial lawyers. Yes, some lawyers have taken advantage of a bad situation, unscrupulously filing multiple claims or claims on behalf of people who are not actually sick. But you neglect to point out that most trial lawyers represent actual victims of asbestos exposure, and that thousands of these victims die each year and many more are sick because for decades the asbestos industry ignored, and sometimes covered up, the scientific evidence linking asbestos exposure to serious illness, including the fatal cancer mesothelioma, for which there is no cure.

Thousands of individuals are diagnosed every year in the United States with mesothelioma. I am 54 years old, a law professor, a wife, and a mother of three boys. I was diagnosed with mesothelioma four years ago as a result of my being exposed to asbestos as a young girl when my parents repaired dry wall and ceiling tiles in our St. Louis home and my father brought home asbestos fibers on his clothes from his job as a brake mechanic.

Most experts agree that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. It is the asbestos companies, not the trial lawyers, that are defrauding the American public by suggesting that asbestos in houses, schools and public buildings do not present a serious health hazard.

Mary Cosentino
Western Springs, Ill.

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