Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) works for Asbestos Free India inspired by trade union leader Purnendu Majumadar. Occupational Health India and ToxicsWatch Alliance are its members that includes doctors, researchers and activists. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims. It works with trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. For Details:1715krishna@gmail.com, oshindia@yahoo.in

Monday, December 10, 2007

Status of Asbestos use & exposure in India



T. Subbarami Reddy worships the Demon named AS-BES-TOS even as the Chairman of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, a very religious institution.


Ministry of Health says, asbestos exposure causes lung cancer
Ministry of Mines says, lift the ban on asbestos mining


On November 27, 2007, Union Minister of State for Mines, Dr. T. Subbarami Reddy informed the Lok Sabha that “A study has been conducted by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) regarding the likely effects on the health of the labourers engaged in the mining of asbestos. The Study recommended imposition of safeguards on pollution level in work environment and other remedial measures.” Dr. Reddy in a written reply said, “Recommendations of the Study have been examined in consultation with all stake holders. Some stake holders have suggested that asbestos mining can be permitted with appropriate safeguards. At present the ban on mining of asbestos has not been lifted.”

Unexamined in the media, workers in India work up to their knees in asbestos powder, breaking up asbestos cement roofs and pipes. Stories of the toll asbestos takes on people are yet to hit the headlines in India as been the case in US, Europe, Australia and Japan. Indian homes are often built of asbestos cement roofs, and people cut their own windows and doorways. Research is showing asbestos epidemics across the globe even in countries where it is currently banned, as the consequence of past exposure, with estimated deaths reaching 30 per day.

Stories of the toll asbestos takes on people are yet to hit the headlines in India as has been the case in US, Europe, Australia and Japan. The recent UN statistics indicates that India imported roughly 306,000 MT of asbestos in 2006. Out of which 152, 820 MT was imported from Russia, 63, 980 MT from Canada, 48, 807 MT from Kazakhstan and 34, 953 MT from Brazil.

Asbestos is a proven human carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer). Lack of health surveillance of asbestos exposed workers and consumers is an invitation to disaster from wholesale public exposure, especially babies and infants in India. Some 45 countries have banned this killer fiber. Asbestos consumption is rising dramatically in India even as U.S. Senate passed Ban Asbestos in America Act on October 04, 2007 unanimously. Asbestos is banned in Europe since 1 January 2005. But countries like Russia, Canada, Kazakhstan and Brazil continue to produce, trade and promote this ticking time bomb in India. The Russian Federation has also been found to be exporting asbestos industry waste to India. Research is showing asbestos epidemics across the globe even in countries where it is currently banned, as the consequence
of past exposure.

Union Ministry of Mines and Minerals is all set to lift the existing ban on asbestos mining. It is ignoring the views of exposure victims, informed recommendations of public sector medical experts, and mounting evidence of an asbestos disease epidemic emerging in developed countries. The rationale to permit mining is hollow.
The International Labour Organization said in January 2006 that asbestos is still the No.1 carcinogen in the world in its report titled "Asbestos: the iron grip of latency." It adds, the dumping of asbestos on developing countries will "prove to be a health time bomb in these countries in 20 to 30 years' time." Jukka Takala, Director of the ILO InFocus Programme SafeWork, issued the report.

While white asbestos mining is currently banned in India, its import, export or use in manufacturing is permitted. But recently, the Ministry of Mines has indicated that it may lift the mining ban.

The reality is that the country's most powerful parliamentarians bless the asbestos industry. On 1 January 2006, production began at an asbestos-cement factory in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh, in the constituency of Sonia Gandhi. The factory is of Visaka Industries, one of India's largest asbestos groups. The company also has asbestos-cement factories in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Karnataka. The Chairman of Visaka Industries, G Vivekanand, is the son of the G Venkataswamy, Member of Parliament, Deputy Leader of the Indian Congress Parliamentary Party and a former Union Textile Minister.

Visaka Industries has asbestos plants located even in Midnapore in West Bengal where CPI(M) is the ruling party for more than 25 years. Although Centre of Indian Trade Union and All India Trade Union Congress have called for ban on asbestos and have also written to the Prime Minister, the fact remains, that the CPI (M) has not gotten rid of it from their own backyard.

There are some states, for instance Assam, UP, and Tamil Nadu, where asbestos factory units are run by the state governments. Pulivendala, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's constituency, has 14 mines. In September 2004, P Dayasankar, Director, Andhra Pradesh's State Mines and Geology Department was reported in the Business Standard to have predicted that the ban on mining may well be lifted. Taking the line that state and central health agencies were also in favour of lifting the ban, he said: "We have already represented the matter to the government of India for the appropriate decision. To my knowledge, the Centre is on the verge of taking a positive decision."

It is not difficult to notice why the entire political establishment wears blinkers when it comes to acknowledging the fact that currently over 45 countries including Europe have banned all forms of asbestos including chrysotile (white asbestos) due to health hazards. With asbestos firms being owned by politicians or the state itself, the government seems to be following a classic ostrich policy.

"Research has found that needle-like crystals permanently penetrate the lung tissue when dust-sized particles of asbestos are inhaled. The crystals can eventually cause scarring of the lungs, called asbestosis, and can cause cancer of the lining of the lung, called mesothelioma. Both diseases are incurable and terminal." In such a situation it is inexplicable as why discredited and false claims of 'safe use' of asbestos by the industry is being parroted by Namo Narain Meena, the Minister of State for Environment saying, "No complaints have so far been received regarding its carcinogenic content and its hazard to health and environment." This is is stark contrast to Ministry’ own admission in the Supreme Court that 16 % of the workers exposed are suffering from asbestos related diseases.

Dr Barry Castleman’s presentation at the workshop in New Delhi demolished the myth of safe and controlled use of all kinds of asbestos. Dr Castleman is the author of Asbestos: Medical and Legal Aspects that is in its fifth edition. The book provides accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter. He is well known for his role in global ban asbestos movement and the passage of Ban Asbestos America Act 2007 in the US Senate. His expert opinion is being filed in the Supreme Court of India in December 2007 in the Hazardous waste/Blue Lady case that is still sub judice.

Inhaling microscopic asbestos particles is enough to deposit particles in the lungs. Export of chrysotile asbestos by Russians and Canadians to developing countries is "criminal" and is killing workers in India. Hundreds of thousands of factory workers, construction workers and consumers across India inhale chrysotile asbestos every day. Workers are too poor or uneducated to demand better working conditions and materials. Till date only 11 workers have been compensated for asbestos-related diseases. Canadian government is promoting this killer fiber with some 800 miners working in the industry.
Like Russian government, Canadian government too makes a claim that efforts are made to promote the safe use of chrysotile in the 65 countries that import it. It will have Indian workers, consumers and the governments believe that chrysotile fibres are far less potent or harmful than most traditional forms of asbestos that are no longer mined or used in Canada. At low levels and following proper safety rules, studies have shown chrysotile poses a minimal health risk. Russian and Canadian government are against a general ban on chrysotile asbestos. Dr Castleman said, "It's baffling that Canada would be involved in this activity which, for a nation, it's criminal."

It is noteworthy that the Union Health Ministry has informed the Parliament: "Studies by the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH), Ahmedabad, have shown that long-term exposure to any type of asbestos can lead to the development of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma." Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, Union Health Minister informed the Lok Sabha, "Regarding asbestos, a lot of poor people use it. As regards the issue pertaining to banning of asbestos, as a health issue, the Government certainly has not taken it up. It is an occupational hazard and people working in the asbestos factories are prone to lung cancer, but we are taking the enormity of the usage of asbestos. Mostly, poor people in the villages use it. Hence, I cannot take a decision on this issue." Recently the manner in which chrysotile asbestos industry has been funding research of NIOH to get favourable opinion about the killer fiber was exposed in national media.

Such stances betray the fact that the UPA government supported by left parties have succumbed to pressures from asbestos industry comprising of Visaka Industries, Hyderabad Industries Limited, Ramco Industries Limited, Utkal Industries Ltd, Everest Industries Ltd, New Sahyadri Industries Ltd, U P Asbestos Ltd, Tamil Nadu Cements Corporation Limited, Kerala Asbestos Cement pipe Factory Limited, Sturdy Industries Ltd, Shakti Roofings Ltd, Assam Roofing Ltd, A Infrastructure Ltd. and others who have been lobbying with the help of Chrysotile Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers’
Association, a corporate NGO and Asbestos Information Centre, a corporate NGO both are affiliated to multinational asbestos producers through International Chrysotile Association.

Brief background to asbestos regulation

Since 1984, environmental monitoring and health surveys have led to in-depth studies in asbestos based industries in India, highlighting an occupationally vulnerable worker population. It was noticed that the workers occupationally exposed to asbestos have a maximum impairment in their pulmonary function test. Besides the consumers, workers employed in the cement-asbestos factories also suffer from the exposure to asbestos. Its incubation period is long, it takes as long as 25 to 30 years for the fibers to make their presence felt in the human body but by then it is incurable. In the developed countries, insurance companies have stopped covering workers employed in asbestos factories and mines.

It was in view of the deleterious effect of asbestos mining on the health of the workers, the central government ordered the state governments in 1986 not to grant any new mining lease for asbestos (including chrysotile variety) in the country. In June 1993, the central government stopped the renewal of existing mining leases of asbestos. The ban was imposed in phases in 1986 and 1993 but not on its use, manufacture, export and import, as noted earlier. But despite the ban on mining, illegal mines are operating in the states of Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. Most asbestos-cement is using imported asbestos, some of it is being sourced from the illegal mining though that is a relatively small proportion.

Following a Supreme Court order, the Union Ministry of Labour constituted a Special
Committee under Chairmanship of S K Saxena, Director General, Directorate of General Factory Advice Service and Labour on the issue of medical benefits and compensation to workers affected by handling of hazardous waste, toxic in nature. The Saxena Committee's report mentions lung cancer and mesothelioma caused by asbestos in all work involving exposure to the risk concerned.

Measures now afoot to lift the ban
The Union Ministry of Mines has proposed to lift the existing ban on mining of chrysotile asbestos. The government volte-face signals the culmination of a debate that began in 1998 when the Ministry of Mines and Minerals (MOMM) asked the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) to assess the feasibility of lifting the ban on expansion of asbestos mining after assessing pollution levels in asbestos mines and processing plants in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.

On 10 March 2006, the Ministry of Mines and Minerals issued a statement saying, "IBM has been asked to work out necessary safeguards/measures in consultation with Central Pollution Control Board subject to which chrysotile asbestos mining can be permitted so as to ensure worker's safety."

The manifest support the asbestos industry appears to enjoy from the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) seems illustrative of an unhealthy consensus, overall. In the meantime, research from leading Indian institutes continues to contradict the Ministry's push to lift the ban. In India, the mining and milling of asbestos is done in Cuddapah (Andhra Pradesh) and Devgarh (Rajasthan).

An in-depth study conducted by Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (ITRC), Lucknow in Beawer and Deovgarh Rajasthan observed higher fibre concentrations in the milling units. All the units belong to the unorganised sector where technology is poor and laws and regulations are simply not in force. The ITRC team observed prevalence of asbestosis in less than five years, which is very high and alarming. ITRC is a constituent laboratory of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), an autonomous body associated with the Union Ministry of Education. It is dedicated to provide health safeguards to industrial and agricultural workers through its rich knowledgebase, created painstakingly over the years.

Dr Qamar Rahman, a senior scientist with ITRC, visiting Professor at Rostock University, Germany and Dean, Research & Development, Integral University, Lucknow says that on the basis of the report and recent studies conducted in the milling units, the ban on asbestos mining should not be lifted. She notes that mining and processing are the part of each other and conditions need to be improved at both the places simultaneously. "In the milling or grinding area fibre concentration is very high, workers do not use gloves, masks and protective clothing. They use primitive manual way for grinding," she says, alarmingly. The housekeeping in the units are also very bad, feels Dr Rahman.

"At the moment unauthorised mining of asbestos is going on in Rajasthan and workers are heavily exposed. If the ban will be lifted conditions will further deteriorate. Keeping in view the above facts the ban on asbestos mining should not be lifted," said Dr Rahman in her comments to the central government on a report regarding lifting the ban on asbestos mining.

The Ministry of Mines chooses to ignore such suggestions in the same way as it has ignored the plight of victims of white asbestos mines in Roro Hills, Chaibasa, Jharkhand abandoned by Hyderabad Asbestos Cement Products Limited (now known as Hyderabad Industries Limited).

The rationale to support the continued use of this killer fiber used in over 3,000 products is barbaric and inhuman. It continues to devastate workers and consumers, but the extent of the tragedy remains largely uncovered in Indian media.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Released by Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) at the Workshop on Occupational Health organized by Centre for Occupational & Environmental Health, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi Web:banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

P.S: A shocking expose on India TV channel on 10th December, 2007 showed how asbestos powder is being mixed in Basmati rice (a very popular and sought after variety of rice in the north and exported) during polishing to give it that extra whiteness.

The expose showed workers mixing dry asbestos powder and talcum powder in rice with bare hands. The bags in which they were being filled had the following printed on them "Mohan Basmati Rice" "Export quality".

3 comments:

Gopal Krishna said...

Hindustan Composites Limited manufactures Asbestos Industrial Products and Friction Materials in India for over 45 years.

It has been catering to the diversified needs of core sector industries, such as Railways, Engineering, Mining, Aerospace, Steel, Chemical, Petrochemical, Fertilizer, power generation, Ship building, Atomic Energy, Electrical, Oil exploration, Automotive, etc.

It has been accorded recognition by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.

Gopal Krishna said...

Asbestos cement board market research in Russia
Published: 2007/10

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION
1. Resources for production of asbestos cement sheets in Russia

* 1.1. ASBESTOS
* 1.2. CEMENT

2. Production of asbestos cement board

* 2.1. METHODS OF PRODUCTION OF ASBESTOS CEMENT BOARD
* 2.2. PRODUCTION OF ASBESTOS CEMENT BOARD IN RUSSIA IN 1997-2005

3. Current standing of large company-producers of asbestos cement board in Russia

* 3.1. JSC «CEBRYAKOVSKY COMBINE OF ASBESTOS CEMENT ARTICLES» (VOLGOGRAD OBLAST)
* 3.2. JSC «BELGORODASBESTOCEMENT» (BELGOROD OBLAST)
* 3.3. JSC «LATO» (MORDOVIA)
* 3.4. JSC «UL' YANOVSKSHIFER» (UL' YANOVSK OBLAST)
* 3.5. JSC «ASBESTOCEMENT»
* 3.6. P JSC «PEOPLE ENTERPRISE (NP) «SUKHOLOZHSKASBOCEMENT»

4. Export-import of asbestos cement board of Russia in 2000-2005

* 4.1. IMPORT OF ASBESTOS CEMENT BOARD
* 4.2. EXPORT OF ASBESTOS CEMENT BOARD

5. Domestic consumption of asbestos cement board in russia (pattern of consumption, the main consumers, tendencies)
6. Brief review of standing of the end-use - building industry
7. Conclusion - prospects and forecast of development of the market
Appendix: Contact information on company-producers of asbestos cement board
List of Tables:

* Table 1. Mining of asbestos in Russia
* Table 2. Asbestos foreign trade in Russia in 1995-2005
* Table 3. Structure of supplies asbestos to Russian asbestos cement producers
* Table 4. Purchases of asbestos by asbestos cement producers
* Table 5. Production of cement by greatest Russian cement plants
* Table 6. Production of asbestos cement board by Russian enterprises
* Table 7. Structure of production of asbestos cement board by kinds of the product
* Table 8. Structure of asbestos cement board products at JSC «SKAI»
* Table 9. Geography of export of asbestos cement board by JSC «SKAI»
* Table 10. Prices on asbestos cement board, produced by JSC «SKAI», by 30.05.05
* Table 11. Structure of asbestos cement board products of JSC «BELATSI»
* Table 12. Results of financial-economic activity of JSC «BELATSI»
* Table 13. Prices on asbestos cement board, produced by JSC «BELATSI» by 27.06.06
* Table 14. Geography of export of asbestos cement board by JSC «BELATSI»
* Table 17. Results of financial-economic activity of JSC «LATO»
* Table 15. Geography of export of asbestos cement board by JSC «LATO»
* Table 16. Structure of domestic and export supplies of asbestos cement board of JSC «LATO»
* Table 18. Price-list on asbestos cement products of JSC «LATO» by May 30, 2006
* Table 19. Structure of domestic and export supplies of asbestos cement board of JSC «Ul' yanovskshifer»
* Table 20. Geography of export of asbestos cement board by JSC «Ul' yanovskshifer»
* Table 21. Price-list on asbestos cement products of JSC «Ul' yanovskshifer» by May 30, 2006
* Table 22. Volume of Russian foreign trade transactions with asbestos cement board
* Table 23. Regional structure of asbestos cement board import
* Table 24. The main importers of asbestos cement board
* Table 25. Regional structure of export of asbestos cement board
* Table 26. Dynamics of changing commodity structure of export of asbestos cement board
* Table 27. Structure of export of asbestos cement board (by nomenclature) (2005)
* Table 28. Dynamics of export of asbestos cement board by plants
* Table 29. Supply-demand balance of asbestos cement board in Russia
* Table 30. Railage of asbestos cement board in 2005
* Table 31. The greatest Russian consumers of domestic asbestos cement board in 2005
* Table 32. Volumes works on item "Building" in 2005
* Table 33. Data on housing
* Table 34. Data on housing by individual developers
* Table 35. Data on production of the main building materials, articles and constructions in 2004-2005
* Table 36. Forecast of production of asbestos cement board, prepared by «Chrysotile Association»
* Table 37. Forecast of production of asbestos cement board of Committee on business in building and communal utilities sector of TPP of Russia (Trade-Industrial Chamber)
* Table 38. Forecast of volumes of production and consumption of asbestos cement sheets prepared by InfoMine experts

List of Figures:

* Figure 1. Dynamics of changing domestic consumption and export of asbestos
* Figure 2. Production of cement in Russia
* Figure 3. Production of asbestos cement board in Russia
* Figure 4. Dynamics of production of asbestos cement board by JSC «SKAI»
* Figure 5. Geography of domestic supplies of asbestos cement board by JSC «SKAI»
* Figure 6. Domestic and export upplies of asbestos cement board of JSC «SKAI»
* Figure 7. Dynamics of production of asbestos cement board by JSC «BELATSI»
* Figure 8. Geography of domestic supplies of asbestos cement board of JSC «BELATSI»
* Figure 9. Dynamics of production of asbestos cement board by JSC «LATO»
* Figure 10. Geography of domestic supplies of asbestos cement board by JSC «LATO»
* Figure 11. Dynamics of production of asbestos cement board by JSC «Ul' yanovskshifer»
* Figure 12. Geography of domestic supplies of asbestos cement board by JSC «Ul' yanovskshifer» in 2005
* Figure 13. Volume of production of asbestos cement board by JSC «Asbestocement»
* Figure 14. Dynamics of domestic and export supplies of asbestos cement board
* Figure 15. Geography of domestic railage supplies of asbestos cement board by JSC «Asbestocement» in 2005
* Figure 16. Dynamics of production of asbestos cement board by PJSC «NP «Sukholozhskasbocement»
* Figure 17. Structure of domestic and export supplies of asbestos cement board by PJSC «NP «Sukholozhskasbocement»
* Figure 18. Geography of domestic railage supplies of asbestos cement board of PJSC «NP «Sukholozhskasbocement» in 2005
* Figure 19. Dynamics of changing volume of import of asbestos cement board
* Figure 20. Dynamics of changing volumes of export of asbestos cement board
* Figure 21. Dynamics of changing apparent consumption of asbestos cement board in Russia
* Figure 22. Regional pattern of consumption of asbestos cement board in 2005
* Figure 23. Pattern of consumption of roofing materials in Russia in 2005

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