A news item "Claims on effects of asbestos refuted" based on Ramco Industries' Press Conference on 22nd July in Chennai, where S A Bhima Raja, president of Ramco Industries Limited is reported to have agreed that asbestos was banned in Europe and the United States after studies showed that it causes mesothelioma, a rare form of carcinoma of the mesothelium lining lungs or abdomen or heart. He is reported to have said that the causative factor was the blue fibre of the asbestos which is misleading.

Ramco's contention that only Blue asbestos, which is banned in India, is the causative factor for asbestos related diseases is completely flawed as can be seen from WHO's Environment Health Criteria and also from WTO's judgment in the European Communities vs Canada case after France banned import of white asbestos from Canada. Both WHO and WTO have held white asbestos as cancer causing.

Echoing industry’s opinion Namo Narain Meena, Minister of state for Environment and Forests acknowledged the demand by some organisations for total ban on white asbestos in response to a question by Vanga Geetha, member of parliament on 19th July. On the issue of action proposed to ban use of white asbestos (popular name for chrysotile asbestos) to make environment free from pollution, Meena said, “as no scientific study establishing that the use of white asbestos causing lung cancer is available, it is not considered as desirable to ban the use of white asbestos.”

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH CRITERIA 203 of World Health Organization, says, “Exposure to chrysotile asbestos poses increased risks for asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma in a dose-dependent manner. No threshold has been identified for carcinogenic risks.”

Also the Union Ministry of Health has informed the parliament that studies by the National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, have shown that exposure to any type of asbestos can lead to the development of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, manufactures like Ramco Industries Limited are misinforming the media that asbestos does not cause lung cancer and other diseases.

As per the survey of U.P. Asbestos Limited, Mohanlalganj, Lucknow and Allied Nippn Pvt Ltd, Gaziabad, (U.P), the lung function impairment was found to be higher in subjects exposed for more than 11 years. This was the result of a Central Pollution Control Board sponsored project entitled " Human risk assessment studies in asbestos industries in India". This has been reported in the (2001-2002) Annual Report of Industrial Toxicological Research Centre, Lucknow.

Countries such as Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Australia, Japan, Uruguay, Honduras and South Africa have banned asbestos taking note of the cancer causing nature of asbestos.

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) condemns the misinformation campaign of the Ramco Industries Limited. BANI is campaigning to get import, manufacture and use of white asbestos banned in India.