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

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Asbestos in UNEP's Hazardous Substances List

Bali: World Forum on Waste Management for Human Health and Livelihood on 26 June 2008 identified some key hazardous substances and their effects on their health. The Forum was organized at the COP9 of Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.

In a publication released at the Forum, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) noted that “Once widely employed in construction primarily for insulation” and underlined that it is “Still used in gaskets, brakes, roofing and other materials”. The publication highlighted that asbestos “When inhaled can cause cancer and mesothelioma.

Under the Convention, trade in asbestos wastes and fibers are banned but the movement of raw asbestos fibers from countries like Russia and Canada is not banned as a result of which Asian countries like India are flooded with asbestos.

The widespread use of asbestos in India is a matter of global concern. It is a silent killer and is being phased out world over with 50 countries having already banned it. Asbestos, used extensively in India as a roofing material, has since the 1960s been described as extremely dangerous to health.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is calling for a ban on all asbestos mining in Canada. The CLC passed a resolution that bans the mining of asbestos and also provides financial support for the 700 miners who would be affected by the shutdown. Quebec province of Canada has the only 2 Canadian asbestos mines and that province has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world.

Besides Russia, Canada still exports asbestos to countries like India even though most countries have banned asbestos.

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) and almost all the major trade unions, environment, health and human rights groups in India have called for banning of asbestos in the country.

Dismantling of ships is one of the key issues being discussed at the COP9, and stems from fears an obsolete vessel can release hundreds of tons of hazardous waste, including asbestos.

Its a pity that UNEP did not call for ban on asbestos although ILO, a UN body too has sought its global elimination.

Christian Paradis’ appointment raises new concerns over asbestos in Canadian public buildings, Greens

Media Release
June *25, 2008
OTTAWA – The Green Party is expressing concern today over the appointment of Christian Paradis to the Public Works portfolio. Mr. Paradis has made comments supporting asbestos use and has previously served as President of the Asbestos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Secretary of the Asbestos Chapter of the Management Club of Canada.

“Mr. Paradis’ history of supporting ‘safe use’ of chrysotile asbestos is very worrying,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May. “Many Canadians are not aware that asbestos is still legal and in use in Canada, even though ‘safe use’ of asbestos is like drinking anti-freeze safely – neither is possible. The Green Party is concerned that Mr. Paradis’ appointment may mean increased asbestos content in the construction of public buildings. Will Mr. Paradis commit to eliminating all asbestos in public projects or will he increase asbestos content in new construction?”

Asbestos has been called the ‘perfect carcinogen’ and no level of exposure can eliminate the risk of developing asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. No one who uses public buildings is safe from exposure, including workers in office buildings, students in schools and patients in hospitals. Workers engaged in renovating, maintaining and cleaning buildings are at an elevated risk.

“According to the Worker’s Compensation Board, nearly a third of workplace-related fatalities are due to asbestos exposure,” said Ms. May. “This is why virtually every labour union in the country opposes asbestos. Asbestos exposure is a serious occupational health issue.

“The Green Party has long called for an asbestos ban in Canada, safe removal of asbestos from existing buildings and an end to mining and export with a just transition strategy for workers. The federal government’s continued subsidization of the asbestos industry and funding for industry associations is a disgrace.”

Ms. May added that Canada’s work to block UN efforts to place chrysotile asbestos on the list of the world’s most toxic substances are deplorable.

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