Ban Asbestos in America Act
U.S. Senate Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee
March 1, 2007
Testimony of Harvey I. Pass
Professor of Surgery and Cardiothoracic Surgery
Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery and Thoracic Oncology
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Director of Surgical Research
NYU School of Medicine and NCI Cancer Center
Chairwoman Murray, Ranking Member Isakson, and distinguished members of the U.S.
Senate Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee:
My name is Harvey Pass and I am the Director of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at the
NYU School of Medicine in New York. When I was Head of Thoracic Oncology at the
National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, I was the first to make mesothelioma a
research priority, and I have continued my mesothelioma clinical and bench work
investigations at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit and now in New York. I am
also a Board member and head of the Scientific Advisors for the Mesothelioma Applied
Research Foundation. I am proud that my research in mesothelioma has been funded by
the NCI, American Cancer Society and the Veterans Administration.
Mesothelioma is a diffuse tumor of the linings of the lungs, abdomen or heart which kills
close to 3,000 victims in the United States. It relentlessly invades the tissues of the chest
and abdomen, causing excruciating pain in most afflicted patients at the end of their life.
The average survival for individuals with mesothelioma is one year.
The cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.
Mesothelioma takes 30 years to exhibit symptoms, or roughly between 10 and 50 years
from the time of the asbestos exposure. The mesothelioma victims of today built our
country as pipe fitters, insulators, boilermakers, electricians and shipbuilders, among
others and a third of today’s mesothelioma victims served the United States on Navy
ships or in shipyards. Families have been destroyed by second hand fiber exposure when
these heroes brought asbestos from their live