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.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dangers in the Dust : Inside the Global Asbestos Trade

As part of the season of programmes Dangers in the Dust: inside the Global Asbestos Trade, Steve Bradshaw meets scientists on both sides of the debate.

Dangers in the Dust: Inside the Global Asbestos Trade

Some experts warn that by 2030 asbestos could be linked to millions of deaths.

Yet, despite an international outcry, its use continues across much of the world.

The industry says it now uses only a less hazardous form of the mineral called white asbestos or chrysotile, which can be safely controlled and that lives lost should be blamed on varieties now banned .

Many scientists however, insist all forms of asbestos may cause cancer, and continuing exports could seriously prolong the epidemic.

In an exclusive worldwide investigation, the BBC and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reveal the truth about asbestos use across four continents.

The investigation shows that a global network of industry groups has spent millions of dollars in public and private money since the mid-1980s to keep asbestos in commerce internationally.

Dangers in the Dust is being rolled out in a series of stories across the BBC's international services, and through ICIJ’s partner publications worldwide.

Listen again to BBC World Service programming:

Dangers in the Dust


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Canada mines and exports white asbestos or chrysotile to developing countries such as India.

The industry says that white asbestos can be used safely.

But a scientific controversy rages around the continued use of white asbestos, and the World Health Organisation says the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases, such as lung cancer and asbestosis, is to stop using all types of asbestos.

India's $850m asbestos industry

One Planet

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The use of white asbestos has been banned - or is subject to stringent restrictions in more than 50 countries - amid fears that it is too dangerous to public health. But in many parts of the developing world, its use is growing.

Lauded for its cheap and durable qualities, white asbestos is a popular product in places like India, where there is a strong demand for affordable housing.

One Planet comes from Ahmedabad in western India, a city where asbestos is commonplace.

Presenter Mike Williams visits a shanty town made of broken bits of asbestos sheeting, and meets the factory workers suffering breathing problems.

He hears state government officials boast there is no asbestos in the region, before changing their mind, and he tries to speak with the boss of one of the city's biggest asbestos product manufacturers.

Suffering with mesothelioma

Health Check

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Steve Lee is living with the incurable cancer, mesothelioma. It is caused by exposure to asbestos. Despite his illness, Steve has continued to run and he has lived for longer than his doctors expected.

Professor Julian Peto, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, tells Claudia Hammond how it was discovered that asbestos is so dangerous to health. He explains why currently the UK has more deaths from asbestos-related diseases than any other country.

Asbestos: the first cases


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In the early 20th Century, Turner Brothers Asbestos was the largest asbestos producer in the world.

It owned mines in Canada and southern Africa, as well as factories in the north of England which processed the mineral into a spun yarn.

The company boasted that 'new uses for asbestos are constantly being discovered, the industry may be regarded as having touched only the fringe of its immense possibilities.'

Then, in 1924, an asbestos spinner named Nellie Kershaw died and things began to change.

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