Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). Asbestos Free India campaign of BANI is inspired by trade union movement and right to health campaign. BANI has been working since 2000. It works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Our asbestos gambit: The Star, Canada


The Canadian government got what it wanted: We can continue to sell a known carcinogen to developing countries without even a warning label. Ottawa's position may protect jobs in Quebec, where chrysotile asbestos is still mined, but it's a source of shame for the nation.

Last week, Canada – by shrewdly keeping a low profile and letting countries that import our chrysotile asbestos do the talking – managed to keep the mineral off a United Nations watch list of dangerous materials. Inclusion on the list doesn't ban it, but it red-flags the dangers and requires governments to consent to import it.

The dangers appear undeniable – here at home, at least. Ottawa is spending millions to remove asbestos from Parliament Hill. That hypocritical message is simple: dangerous for us; safe for them.

India and other nations are happy to buy what we're selling because mixing it with cement increases the durability of water pipes and roofing shingles – and is cheaper than other options. The industry contends chrysotile is less deadly than other forms of asbestos if handled safely. Given that workers in these parts of the world often wear little more than shorts and flip flops, that's a pointless distinction.

As more nations get the economic wherewithal to put health ahead of cheap products, the asbestos trade will meet its deserved end. Says New Democrat MP Pat Martin, who once worked in an asbestos mine: "It's a dying industry in more ways than one." But Prime Minister Stephen Harper has missed an opportunity to do what's right and help Canada regain some of the international respect we've lost.

3 November, 2008

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