Expressly defending white asbestos

  • 14/08/2003
  • WHO

Expressly defending white asbestos White Asbestos

The asbestos cement industry is back on the sly with its misinformation campaign. On July 15, 2003, The Indian Express and The Financial Express carried full-page "special features' trying vainly to defend the use of white asbestos fibre by the asbestos cement industry in the country.

Shockingly the Express group carried the full-page reports without any attribution and under the guise of a special feature. But it is not very difficult to guess the origins of the report. The industry's reaction is obviously propelled by a large number of reports in the mainstream media about the dangers posed by the use of all kinds of asbestos and demands from numerous quarters for a complete ban on the use of all types of the fibre.

More than 35 countries, including those in the European Union, have already banned asbestos. Australia will ban it from 31 December 2003. But the Indian industry, instead of moving towards asbestos-free products, wants us to believe that "white asbestos is safe' and that "white asbestos products do not have any risk potential to users'. Scientific evidence proves the contrary.

Studies done by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Labour Organisation all confirm the carcinogenic nature of all kinds of asbestos, including white asbestos.

The International Programme on Chemical Safety, Environment Health Criteria 203 concludes and recommends protection of human health from exposure to white asbestos because it poses increased risks for asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Will the Express group care to carry a full-page feature on the other side of the story too?