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 23, 2009

UN headquarters to become asbestos free

Press Note

UN headquarters to become asbestos free

Indian Parliament, Courts, Govt buildings & media houses remain asbestos laden

BANI expresses grave concerns about the health & safety of Indian government officials, judges, parliamentarians & media persons

New Delhi-24/11/2009: The headquarters of the United Nations, based in New York City, will soon undergo a $2 billion extreme makeover. Plans for the massive overhaul of the UN campus involve removal of asbestos, a material once commonly used in a variety of building materials including fireproofing, tiles, and insulation. The work on the building will force some diplomats to relocate. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will move to a temporary structure. The UN's $2 billion renovation project is slated for completion in 2014. In order to show a leadership initiative for countries around the globe, the UN is making its buildings asbestos free.

Asbestos was used in 19th and 20th-century design of the buildings, its high time developning countries like India too stepped in the era of 21st century asbestos free design.

Exposure to asbestos is now known to be a contributing factor to the development of mesothelioma a rare form of cancer that affects thousands worldwide each year. Mesothelioma symptoms may not become apparent until many decades after a person has been exposed to asbestos.

Many mesothelioma patients lose their battle with mesothelioma only months after being diagnosed, with the majority of patients succumbing within 24 months of being diagnosed. Exposure to asbestos can also lead to lung cancer, pleural plaques, and asbestosis.

Earlier, President of the U.N. staff union, Stephen Kisambira had called a rare news conference to express concerns on behalf of U.N. workers that the asbestos abatement will not be carried out safely and effectively.

The matter is complicated even further because the UN, which is technically not United States territory despite its location in New York, has special legal status. This status would prevent workers or residents from bringing lawsuits against the contractors working on the abatement. If anyone contracts a asbestos realted disease which they believe is directly related to the renovation, they will be allowed to pursue arbitration but not litigation.

United Nations spokesperson Farhaq Haq has given an assurance that the abatement will be performed safely saying, “We will have another independent group that will monitor how the abatement process is carried out”. Architect Michael Adlerstein added that ATC Associates, an independent environmental engineering, health and safety specialist, will be “taking air samples several times a day at prescribed locations inside and outside the work area.”

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) is deeply concerned about the health and safety of Indian government officials, judges,the parliamentarians and media persons who work and live in asbestos laden buildings. It is about time steps are taken to make their work and and residential places as safe as UN headquarters. BANI has witnessed asbestos structures in the premises of the Indian Supreme Court as well.

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 India. 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 Details: Gopal Krishna, BANI, Mb: 9818089660, E-mail:

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