Re “The Asbestos Scam,” by Joe Nocera (column, Dec. 3): Asbestos manufacturers filed for bankruptcy after juries across the nation assessed punitive damages for concealing the asbestos-disease hazards from their workers and the users of their products for 50 years.

Mr. Nocera makes light of a claimant’s assertion that she was subjected to asbestos exposure because she lived in a house with relatives who worked with asbestos, but numerous studies link household exposure (often called “bystander exposure”) with asbestos disease. He denies that there is conclusive proof that cigarette smoking and asbestos exposure combine to increase the risk of lung cancer, despite the findings of epidemiological studies from around the world.

Chief among them is the investigation by Dr. Irving J. Selikoff, former director of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Environmental Sciences Laboratory, and Dr. E. Cuyler Hammond, former vice president for epidemiology and statistics of the American Cancer Society, who showed that nonsmoking asbestos workers died of lung cancer seven times more often than people in the general population, and whose calculations suggested that asbestos workers who smoked had more than 90 times the risk of dying of lung cancer as men who neither worked with asbestos nor smoked.

An estimated 10,000 Americans are dying of asbestos disease each year; before the asbestos tragedy has run its course, an estimated 500,000 Americans will have died of the disease.

PAUL BRODEUR
Tavernier, Fla., Dec. 3, 2013

The writer, a former staff writer for The New Yorker, is the author of four books about the asbestos hazard.