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Manville Corp. Begins Fiberglass Education Program

October 1, 1987

DENVER (AP) _ Manville Corp. has offered to defend its customers against health claims arising from exposure to Manville-produced fiberglass products in apparent response to growing publicity of research on the product.

The corporation apparently plans to avoid a repeat of its costly experience with asbestos which drove it into protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in 1982 as health claims from that product soared into the millions of dollars.

″A lot has been reported publicly about the fiberglass health issue as a result of preliminary research findings presented in Copenhagen in October 1986. However, when the results of the completed studies were reported in Lyon in June 1987, they showed no statistically significant higher than expected lung cancer death rates among fiberglass workers,″ said William A. Sells, president of Manville’s fiberglass products group in a news release issued Wednesday.

″Similarly, animal inhalation studies have not shown any evidence of disease from exposure to fiberglass,″ Sells said. However, he said some animal implantation experiments have produced tumors.

The Denver-based Manville began its fiberglass information program on Monday with company officials making recommendations on fiberglass safety to thousands of company employees and customers.

Key elements of the program include:

-Establishing guidelines for workplace fiberglass exposure.

-Rewriting fiberglass product labels and safety sheets to reflect the latest information about the proper use of the material.

-An offer to help defend Manville fiberglass customers against any health claims arising from exposure to the company’s fiberglass products.

Robert Anderson, Manville vice president for health, safety and the environment, said the company also has recommended the use of respirators when employees work with fiberglass in certain concentrations.

Fiberglass is used in insulation, to reinforce plastics, gypsum wallboard, asphalt roofing products and vinyl flooring.

Philip Enterline, a scientist at the University of Pittsburgh, said Manville was ″taking the right steps, doing all the right things″ in its fiberglass information program.

″As far as the general public is concerned, no one should panic about the use of fiberglass,″ he said. ″However, if we pose the question, ‘Are man- made mineral fibers capable of producing cancer in humans,’ the answer is yes ... It relates to the quantity of the dose.″

Tens of thousands of workers have been employed in manufacturing fiberglass since its initial development nearly 50 years ago.

Manville operates 17 fiberglass plants worldwide, with 14 in the United States, one in Canada and two in West Germany.

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