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

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Asbestos use goes on despite health hazards

New Delhi, April 14
Ignoring the dangerous effects they have on health, amphibole and chrysotile varieties of asbestos continue to be used in India.

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) says the details of the National Mineral Policy announced on April 10 have revealed quite unambiguously that India continues to use both amphibole and chrysotile varieties of asbestos, ignoring the toll it takes on the national health.

Gopal Krishna of the BANI elaborates that exposure to asbestos causes stiffening of lung and has resulted in the deaths of many miners. “Lung cancer has a higher incidence in miners who also smoke, with the chance of developing cancer roughly proportional to the amount smoked. Asbestos-induced cancer is found only rarely in non-smokers. Among the various type of asbestos, chrysotile workers have the lowest incidence of cancer,” he says.

Krishna adds that the mineral policy has made two facts clear. One that ban on asbestos is not in force even though no formal announcement has been made to the effect that the ban has been lifted. Two, it is also clear that ban on amphibole, the most dangerous variety of asbestos, is not correct.

“World over, asbestos-based MNCs are all in bankruptcy proceedings and shifting to other businesses. But India’s mining policy shows how the Indian government has adopted a considered ostrich policy in face of indisputable evidence about the havoc from asbestos consumption. Unmindful of the ongoing global momentum to ban this mineral, asbestos cancer epidemic in India is a story of monumental failure to protect public health,” he adds.

Asbestos is one of the most pervasive environmental hazards in the world, present in more than 3,000 manufactured products. Five to seven per cent of all lung cancers can be attributed to occupational exposures to asbestos. All forms of asbestos, including amphibole and chrysotile varieties, cause variety of health disorders.

Asbestos exposure affects not only asbestos workers but also their families, users of asbestos products, and the public as it is exposed to building materials and asbestos in heating and ventilating systems, Krishna says, quoting a recent paper.

“It is noteworthy that Rajasthan produces asbestos despite repeated statements in Parliament stating that asbestos mining remains banned in India so far.”

The Tribune

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