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August 12, 1974

Asbestos Fibers in Drinking Water

Author Affiliations

Medical University of South Carolina Charleston

JAMA. 1974;229(7):767. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230450017013

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To the Editor.—  The conclusion by Mason et al (228:1019, 1974) that no carcinogenic effect from asbestos in drinking water was apparent is timely and should allay somewhat the panic-like fears whipped up by sensational and emotional reporting in the news media.A misstatement in this article needs to be corrected. According to Mason et al, Pontefract and Cunningham (Nature 243:352, 1973) found that "asbestos fed experimentally to rats has passed through the gastric and intestinal mucosa into the bloodstream."The facts are that the asbestos was injected as a suspension into the stomach cavity. This technique established the probability that the needle, in passing through the gastric wall, tore open vessels in its path. Some of the aqueous suspension of asbestos fibers, under pressure, could have leaked out of the hole in the gastric wall when the needle was withdrawn.Transmigration of inhaled particles through the respiratory membrane is