Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) that 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

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Will India ever have asbestos-free automobiles?




Although Chairman of Tata group, Ratan Tata is yet to respond to the questions raised about his claims of so called People's Car- Nano that he launched at the ninth Auto Expo in New Delhi being environment friendly, it is germane to wonder about the possibility of asbestos free automobiles in India.

Tata Motors' vehicles are exported to over 70 countries in Europe, Africa, South America, Middle East, Asia and Australia. The company also has assembly operations in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt. It claims that Tata Motors has led the Indian automobile industry's anti-pollution efforts through a series of initiatives in effluence and emission control. The company introduced emission control engines in its vehicles in India before the norm was made statutory. All its products meet required emission standards in the relevant geographies. Modern effluent treatment facilities, soil and water conservation programmes and tree plantation drives on a large scale at its plant locations contribute to the protection of the environment and the creation of green belts.

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) has asked Ratan Tata to clarify whether this car and other automobiles that it manufacturers are asbestos free.

Tata Motors is India's largest and only fully integrated automobile company that was established in 1945. It began manufacturing commercial vehicles in 1954 with a 15-year collaboration agreement with Daimler Benz of Germany. Since 1969, the company's products have come out of its own design and development efforts.

It is India's largest commercial vehicle manufacturer with a 59-per cent market share and ranks among the top six manufacturers of medium and heavy commercial vehicles in the world.

Its product range covers passenger cars, multi-utility vehicles and light, medium and heavy commercial vehicles for goods and passenger transport. Seven out of 10 medium and heavy commercial vehicles in India bear the trusted Tata mark.

The company has over 130 models of light, medium and heavy commercial vehicles ranging from two tonnes to 40 tonnes, buses ranging from 12-seaters to 60 seaters, tippers, special purpose vehicles, off-road vehicles and defence vehicles.

The company's passenger car range comprises the hatchback Indica and the Indigo sedan in petrol and diesel versions. The Tata Sumo, its rural variant, the Spacio and the Tata Safari (the country's first sports utility vehicle) are the company's multi-utility offerings.

The Tata Indica, India's first indigenously designed and manufactured car, was launched by Tata Motors in 1999 as part of its ongoing effort towards giving India transport solutions that were designed for Indian conditions. Currently, the company's passenger cars and multi-utility vehicles have a 16-per cent market share.


In addition to the growth opportunities in the buoyant domestic market, the company is pursuing growth through acquisitions (it acquired Daewoo Commercial Vehicles, Korea, in 2003) and alliances (it has entered into a tie-up with MG Rover, UK, to supply 1,00,000 Indicas to be badged as City Rover) in other geographies.

It claims that it invests up to 1.3 per cent of its annual turnover on research and development, with an emphasis on new product / aggregates development and technology upgradation. Its Engineering Research Centre in Pune employs over 1,100 scientists and engineers and has India's only certified crash-test facility.

Asbestos laden Indian Automobiles

All cars and automobiles except Honda are asbestos laden in India. Sundaram Brake Linings Ltd, part of the TVS group had announced sometime back that it is working towards offering asbestos-free brake linings for the entire range of vehicles in India.

One cannot tell whether brake or clutch components contain asbestos simply by looking at them. For newer vehicles and parts, auto manufacturers, auto parts retailers and packaging information may be able to tell you whether or not your brake or clutch components contain asbestos. In India, even new vehicles are asbestos laden.

For older vehicles, or vehicles that have had brakes replaced, you may not be able to easily find out if the brake or clutch components contain asbestos.

Professional automotive technicians and home mechanics who repair and replace brakes and clutches may be exposed to asbestos dust. Brake and clutch dust can be seen when a brake disk, drum, clutch cover, or the wheel is removed from a car, truck, or other equipment. There are also many small dust particles that cannot be seen with the eye. If the brakes contain asbestos, the dust may contain asbestos fibers, which could be inhaled.

Friction materials are used in many forms. As used herein, the term "friction material" refers to a component of an assembly which is attached to a moving body

In India, preventing asbestos exposure among brake and clutch repair workers has not received any attention so far. Traditionally, brake materials contained a large amount of asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber material. It provided good green strength, flexural strength and compressive strength and was very stable at elevated temperatures. It also provided very good friction properties and is very inexpensive. Asbestos is not now favored due to the concern that improper handling during manufacture of the friction material could injure workers. As a result, the brake industry has been searching for a replacement for asbestos for a long time.

Asbestos-free friction materials in the automotive industry have been around for almost a decade but the same has not been adopted in India.

In use, the friction material is pressed against another member. Either the friction material or other member moves when the body moves such that pressing the friction material against the other member generates a frictional force which retards motion of the body or couples a motive force to the other member. For example, in a brake assembly attached to a car, a brake pad presses against a brake disc. The frictional force generated in the brake assembly retards motion of the car. As another example in a transmission assembly in a car, a clutch plate coupled to the wheels of the car is pressed against a clutch plate attached to the engine. The frictional force between the clutch plates couples motive force from the engine to the wheels making the car move.

The specific fillers and amounts used in any given brake material is generally a closely guarded-secret of the manufacturer. However, there are certain characteristics of brake materials which are generally measured and used for comparison to other materials.

The removal of asbestos from friction materials requires the identification of substitute brakes and systems and commercialization of new materials as well as the phaseout of asbestos materials.

Hazards of Asbestos Use

The removal of asbestos from friction materials has been necessitated by the recognition that asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral fiber that can cause serious health problems when inhaled into the lungs. If products containing asbestos are disturbed, thin, lightweight asbestos fibers can be released into the air. Persons breathing the air may breathe in asbestos fibers. Continued exposure can increase the amount of fibers deposited in the lung. Fibers embedded in the lung tissue over time may result in lung diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma. Smoking increases the risk of developing asbestosis and lung cancer.

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) has been campaigning for 100% asbestos free products in our country. Tata Motors is well placed to initiate the process of undertaking such measures. It is high time Indian government and automobile manufacturers took cognisance of the urgent need for replacement in automobile and truck brake systems. Such replacement would have a direct effect on friction materials used in automotive, truck, transit bus, and train brake systems, since many friction materials contain asbestos and would become safer.

8 comments:

toxicswatch said...

"Is "People's Car- Nano" asbestos free?"

Nano- Tata's dream car

New Delhi: Putting a big question mark on the safety measures of the much awaited People's Car- Nano - environmentalists have asked whether the car is asbestos free or not even though Chairman of Tata group, Ratan Tata gave an absolute assurance of the car being safe for environment during the launch of the car at the ninth Auto Expo in New Delhi. Almost all automakers in India use asbestos brakes, though the polluting material has been replaced with Aramid fibre (the same material used in bulletproof vests) world over since the mid-1990s.

Compounding to the problems is the fact that most auto mechanics are just as ignorant about the asbestos threat as the consumers. But for the mechanics, ignorance can mean a painful death. Scientists are well aware of the cancer causing nature of asbestos. Asbestos containing brake linings and jointing are used in automobiles, says Ban Asbestos Network in India (BANI) activist Gopal Krishna said.
Though, Krishna agrees that some of the auto manufacturers use metallic brake shoes as a safer replacement for the asbestos but he also adds that there is no surveillance yet to ensure that asbestos brakes carry the cancer warning labels.

Another member of the BANI said, "In a stark case of double standard, both asbestos free brakes and asbestos containing ones are being manufactured but the former is for export and latter is for domestic consumption."

Asbestos is banned in over 40 countries and has given rise to an epidemic of asbestos related diseases such as lung cancer. Modern industry has no need of asbestos but asbestos industry is still expanding in India. Till the Tata Motors issues a clarification about use of asbestos in Nano and the environmentalists feel satisfied with the explanation, such questions keep surfacing and eyebrows would be raised on this eco-sensitive issue.

By Prabhash K Dutta
Friday, January 11, 2008
www.headlinesindia.com

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Who said...

It is a well-known fact that asbestos is dangerous to humans, but do you know why?

In its raw state, asbestos is friable, which means it can be easily broken into tiny microscopic fibers and inhaled. Individual asbestos fibers are smaller than a human hair, and some are so small as to be invisible to the human eye.

Asbestos is not friable when it is embedded in ceiling tiles or pipe coverings; the potential for dangerous asbestos exposure occurs when asbestos products are broken, cut, or sanded. Asbestos dust, consisting of millions of tiny airborne fibers, floats in the air and gets into the lungs. The body responds by forming scar tissue when small asbestos fibers are inhaled. Extensive scar tissue formation is what can lead to lung cancer, asbestosis, and malignant mesothelioma.

Read more about this in:

http://whoisatrisk.blogspot.com/search/label/Asbestos%20exposure

Who said...

It is a well-known fact that asbestos is dangerous to humans, but do you know why?

In its raw state, asbestos is friable, which means it can be easily broken into tiny microscopic fibers and inhaled. Individual asbestos fibers are smaller than a human hair, and some are so small as to be invisible to the human eye.

Asbestos is not friable when it is embedded in ceiling tiles or pipe coverings; the potential for dangerous asbestos exposure occurs when asbestos products are broken, cut, or sanded. Asbestos dust, consisting of millions of tiny airborne fibers, floats in the air and gets into the lungs. The body responds by forming scar tissue when small asbestos fibers are inhaled. Extensive scar tissue formation is what can lead to lung cancer, asbestosis, and malignant mesothelioma.

Read more about this in:

http://whoisatrisk.blogspot.com/search/label/Asbestos%20exposure

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