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.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BANI Welcomes U.S. Surgeon General’s Statement Seeking Asbestos Ban

For Immediate Release:
Thursday, September 17, 2009

New evidence shows asbestos causes ovarian cancer and laryngeal cancer

BANI Demands immediate ban on import & use of asbestos

September 17, 2009, New Delhi -Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) appreciates and welcomes US Surgeon General Steven K. Galson's statement acknowledging the dangers of asbestos and calls upon the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Commerce and Industry to initiate steps for immediate ban on use, manufacture and trade of all forms of asbestos (including Chrysotile or White Asbestos).

Illustrating the same Kerala State Human Rights Commission has noted that exposing workers and consumers to asbestos fibers of all kinds including chrysotile constitutes violation of human rights in its order dated 31st January, 2009. But Indian government continues to put commercial interests of asbestos industry ahead of health and the environment of Indian citizens.

Despite the asbestos disease epidemic in US, Europe, Australia, Japan, South Africa and elsewhere, a recent document titled "Human Health Risk Assessment Studies in Asbestos Based Industries in India" by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Union Ministry of Environment Forests has failed to recommend ban on asbestos. The study reiterates the Supreme Court’s order by asking Medical examination record should be maintained and stored for a period of 10 years following the termination of employment, or for 40 years after first day of employment, whichever is later. In order to comply with the recommendations contained in IS:11451-1986 (i.e. Bureau of Indian Standards Recommendations for Safety and Health Requirements Relating to Occupational Exposure to Asbestos), employer should stop existing practice of employment of temporary, contract workers or daily wage workers. Such recommendations have not been complied in a contemptuous manner.

The study was undertaken by the Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Lucknow for the CPCB. The foreword by Chairman, CPCB reveals the alarming fact that the indigenous asbestos is mostly used by the unorganized sector. Clearly, ban on asbestos mining has not been implemented in totality.

The political patronage enjoyed by the industry is an open secret. BANI has written letters to the President, Vice President, National Human Rights Commission and the Defence Minister (armed forces use asbestos as well) drawing their urgent attention towards a serious unprecedented environmental and occupational health crisis with regard to unnoticed asbestos epidemic in the country. Even if one asbestos fibre reaches the right place, it causes irreversible damage - leading to asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma. Thirty deaths are caused per day from asbestos-related diseases as per estimates based on US and European studies.

Russia, Canada, Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe and few others are the largest exporters of asbestos and BANI along with the trade unions are concerned about Indian government's apathy for the occupational and public health of citizens and workers in India. Further the massive unethical advertising campaigns in India are underway to make people believe that asbestos is safe, while the facts state the contrary. There is incontrovertible evidence that creates a compelling logic for making India asbestos free.

The asbestos exporting countries in liaison with the Indian asbestos industry in collusion with government has unleashed a misinformation campaign about the mythical safe and controlled use of asbestos products, unmindful of the fact that so far some 50 countries have banned all forms of asbestos, and are already using alternative materials.

Almost every international health agency of repute including the World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the American Cancer Society agree there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Most recently, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reconfirmed that all commercial asbestos fibers - including chrysotile, the most commercially used form of asbestos - cause lung cancer and mesothelioma. In addition, the IARC newly confirmed that there is sufficient evidence that asbestos causes ovarian cancer and reconfirmed asbestos causes laryngeal cancer.

US Surgeon General’s statement specifies: "I urge every American to become aware of the public health issues of asbestos exposure and the steps they can take to protect their health." It also underscores the need for a ban, stating, "...there is no level of asbestos exposure that is known to be safe and minimizing your exposure will minimize your risk of developing asbestos-related disease."
The US Senate's Resolution urging the Surgeon General to issue a warning, 'as a public health issue, to warn and educate people that asbestos exposure may be hazardous to their health', is indeed a landmark step to prevent exposure and deaths.

Responding to the statement, a victim of asbestos disease, Linda Reinstein, Executive Director of Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) said, "As a mesothelioma widow, I am pleased to see the Surgeon General's statement, as asbestos has been a known carcinogen for more than thirty years. ADAO is excited to be able to advance educational efforts with his statement, which strongly reaffirms the need to ban asbestos."

Notably, In the US, Dow Chemicals Company which refuses to own the manifest liability for Bhopal Gas leak disaster has set aside $2.2 billion to address future asbestos-related liabilities arising out of the Union Carbide acquisition, no Indian industry has done so till date.

To read the Surgeon General's full statement, please visit:
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About Ban Asbestos Network of India
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) is engaged in responding to public health crisis due to mining, manufacturing, use, and import of all forms of asbestos including Chrysotile. As part of a global anti-toxic activists’ coalition, BANI is fighting to ensure asbestos free ship-breaking. Asbestos is a commercial term for six fibrous minerals of which chrysotile (white asbestos), the fibrous form of serpentine, is the form of asbestos which is mostly used now. BANI was founded by public health and environmental health researchers and activists in 2002. For more information visit

For further details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), Mb:09818089660, E-mail:

Read the 6th United States Senate Annual Asbestos Awareness Resolution

Statement from Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson about
National Asbestos Week

In recognition of 'National Asbestos Awareness Week,' I urge every American to become aware of the public health issues of asbestos exposure and the steps they can take to protect their health.

In recent decades, because of concern about asbestos' health effects, production and use has declined substantially. Most individuals exposed to asbestos, whether in a home, in the workplace, or out-of-doors will not develop disease- but there is no level of asbestos exposure that is known to be safe and minimizing your exposure will minimize your risk of developing asbestos-related disease.

Asbestos is the name given to a group of fibrous minerals that occur naturally in the environment. Low levels of asbestos are commonly in the air as fibers enter the environment from natural rock outcroppings, products that contain asbestos, former asbestos mining and milling operations, and from disturbance of asbestos-containing material. It is when we are exposed to much more concentrated levels of asbestos that we should be concerned. Therefore, it is important for all Americans to be aware of asbestos levels in their environment.

Asbestos can be dangerous if it is inhaled. Activity that disturbs asbestos causing these small fibers to float in air increases the chances of inhalation and the contraction of asbestos-related diseases. Disturbance is what leads to exposure. Do not attempt to touch or remove asbestos by yourself. Only people professionally trained and certified to safely handle asbestos should remove it.

Once breathed in, asbestos fibers can remain in the lungs for years and even decades. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause inflammation and scarring of the lungs, changes in the lining of the chest cavity around the lung, and certain cancers. Remember that tobacco smoke greatly increases your risk of lung cancer if you have also been exposed to asbestos.

If you think you have been exposed to asbestos, I encourage you to speak to your health care provider. Your provider can tell you if any of your health problems might be caused
by asbestos exposure.

To learn more about asbestos and asbestos related diseases, please visit:

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