Dr. Alan Whitehouse
Pulmonologist started treating Libby patients at Spokane practice
Physician Alan Whitehouse, 71, has studied the effects of asbestos on the human body for much of his career as a pulmonologist. A graduate of Cornell University and the University of Cincinnati’s medical school, Whitehouse started practicing medicine in Spokane in 1969. It was at his private practice there that Whitehouse first began treating W.R. Grace employees and their family members who made the 150-mile drive to his office seeking x-rays and lung tests.
Over time, Whitehouse began to recognize and document the uniqueness of his Libby patients in regards to their rapid disease progression and distinctive radiology tests. In a 2002 article, Andrew Schneider quoted EPA on site supervisor Paul Peronard as crediting Whitehouse for his unparalleled knowledge of Libby’s asbestos patients.
“Whitehouse’s research on the people here gave us our first solid lead of how bad this tremolite is,” Peronard is quoted as saying.
Whitehouse, who is married and a grandfather, continues work with patients at Libby’s Center for Asbestos Related Disease, which he joined in 2004 after years of consulting for the center. According to Whitehouse’s court testimony, of the 2,400 active patients he sees in Libby, 1,800 have asbestos exposure disease.
While at the center, Whitehouse has emerged as a nationally recognized researcher on the effects of asbestos. His work includes a 2008 study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine documenting non-occupational exposures in Libby and predicting an “epidemic of mesothelioma” within the next 20 years as a result.
According to Kimberly Rowse at the CARD, Whitehouse’s dedication to treating the people of Libby goes beyond any professional obligation. Rowse said that Whitehouse’s loyalty to his patients drives him to continue work on the disease, commuting two weeks a month from his home in Deer Park, Wash., to the center in Libby.
“Alan has just been so committed to this,” she said. “He just made the promise to the community and himself to learn everything that he could and share that knowledge with other physicians.”
– Kyle Lehman