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White Asbestos Kills
Now thatched roofing is being replaced with asbestos in haste, following the fire tragedy in a school in Kumbakonan, 350 km from Chennai. The replacement found for a thatched roof in the state is one with asbestos sheets, which is a cancer causing material, and it is going to have disastrous consequences for health.
Beautiful, but innocent?
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.
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The Tamil Nadu Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs. 95 lakhs to the district to provide non-flammable, carcinogenic structures in classrooms of government schools where thatched roofs were removed following the Kumbakonam fire tragedy.
The fund is to be used to provide asbestos roofing for 95 classrooms and, the work of providing asbestos roofing had commenced in 13 schools, the Public Works Department had been entrusted with the task of carrying out the work.
Asbestos has been banned from construction since 1979 in California, in America. Its use was reduced starting the early 1970s, when it was getting attention for being a leading cause of lung cancer.
Today, it still causes cancer. Removing asbestos is a difficult and expensive procedure. Structures with asbestos being demolished need to be put into bags and buried. Those being kept up need to have the asbestos sealed up.
The use of asbestos on roofs is a gray area. We still use asbestos shingles (sheets) on the roof, and that's not considered that dangerous, because the fibers are contained in the asphalt material. So, in this situation, the use of asbestos might be reasonable, if the shingles are properly constructed. It's of paramount importance that they be, or the risks will be tremendous.
Just as an example, people who work on brakes often suffer from "brown lung" and get cancer, and many die in the 50s, around 25 years short of the average life expectancy here. The brake linings contain(ed) asbestos.
Now thatched roofing is being replaced with asbestos in haste
from article, this happened in estonia too, perhaps there can be some mutual exchange in how to cover the problem, its a mess, iv seen asbest just abouts evrywhere here
The way media has reported on ship-breaking and is making a case for asbestos free India is commendable. This has ably been assisted by the research of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), a coalition of civil society groups, public health professionals and activists since April 2002. One wonders as to why their work is not acknowledged in the news reports.
The fact remains if ever asbestos gets banned in India, the credit for it will go to BANI members across the country who have consistently campaigned against it while newspapers and news channels were earning advertisement revenue from the asbestos industry.
The silence of The Hindustan Times, a K K Birla company will also be remembered for they tried to save the profits of Hyderabad Industries instead of standing up for public health. The way The Times of India has boycotted reporting on asbestos hazards is also noteworthy. The way Express Group of publications earned ad revenue from asbestos industry and later the way they have started reporting against it following a briefing to its editor from BANI is also remarkable.
But what is being lost sight of is the fact that the issue in question is not asbestos per se but "white asbestos", because other kinds are already banned.
Asbestos fibres are released into the environment by natural and anthropogenic processes. The dispersal of asbestos fibers during the manufacture and processing of materials containing asbestos is a great hazard to the respiratory organs and in particular the lungs. Numerous products containing substitute materials are now making it possible to dispense with the use of substances containing asbestos.
Asbestos in all its forms affects human health by causing lung cancer and diseases like asbestosis. Its effects are far-reaching, affecting everyone from the person mining it to the ultimate consumer. Asbestos dust may be inhaled while drilling a hole, cutting a pipe, repairing, renovating or demolishing a building. Worse, once a person is exposed to it, merely removing the victim from the site does not arrest either the progress of the disease or the risk of cancer. Clinical reports show that a sbestosis, mesothelioma or lung cancer can show up even 25-40 years after exposure to asbestos. These facts are seldom disclosed to workers in the asbestos industry.
Exposure to asbestos causes asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma of pleura and peritoneum. In India, the total use of asbestos is 1.25 lakh tonnes, out of which more than 1.0 lakh tonnes is being imported. Significant occupational exposure to asbestos occurs mainly in asbestos cement factories, asbestos textile industry and asbestos mining and milling. NIOH has carried out studies in all these industries and generated baseline data.
Now the regulation of the asbestos trade has been made virtually impossible because being under Open General License. Canada exports asbestos to India although has enforced a limited ban in its own country. Other exporters to India are Russia, Brazil and Zimbabwe. Last year 80,000 tonnes was imported from Russia alone
There are 18 asbestos cement factories located in different parts of the country. National Institute of Occupational Health carried out environmental epidemiological studies in four asbestos cement factories located in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Coimbatore and Mumbai. The prevalence of asbestosis in these factories varied from 3% to 5%.
The Government of Egypt has requested all certificates required within the framework of the Basel convention to approve Le Clemenceau ’s passage through Egyptian territorial waters and the Suez Canal. The same request is made to the Indian government.
If Egypt does not receive all required documents, they will have to consider the sailing convoy illegal, subject to punishment under Egyptian law, and it will be ordered back to a French port. Government of Egypt is attempting to uphold the Basel Convention.