Asbestos 'Used And Sold In India'

Asbestos Cancer and Mesothelioma

25.07.2010

Many companies in developing countries across the world are using and selling asbestos despite the health risks because it is "cheap and abundant", a new report has revealed.

Asbestos is being used and sold in countries such as India and Mexico, where there is a huge demand for inexpensive building materials, the report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and BBC claims.

Despite asbestos being restricted or even banned in 52 countries due to its links with cancer, many firms are ignoring the risks and continuing to sell the mineral for use in roofing, water pipes and home construction.

Indian reporter Murali Krishnan, who worked on the nine-month investigation, said: "The really unfortunate part is that, though they know it's dangerous, they still live with it because it's cheap and abundant."

In India, the use of asbestos has risen by 83% since 2004, and almost 350,000 metric tonnes of it was used last year alone.

More than half of the two million metric tonnes of asbestos mined globally last year was sold to developing countries, the report added.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Satinder Bains at law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "This investigation has highlighted the significant problems of asbestos use in India. While other countries are banning asbestos, India is expanding its use of the material with an estimated 1, 25,000 million metric tons of asbestos used in India each year.

"Despite white asbestos being banned or restricted in some 52 countries, on the grounds that any form of asbestos can cause devastating illnesses it continues to remain a hugely profitable industry in India where companies make large profits from the manufacture of asbestos cement products. They pour millions into producing propaganda playing down the health risks associated with asbestos exposure. Future generations will suffer from a failure to ban this very dangerous material.

"We are also seeing evidence of limited resources being invested in implementing and protecting the health of the workers employed to mine and produce asbestos products in India. I see everyday through my work the legacy here in Britain of employers allowing carpenters, plumbers, electricians, labourers etc to work with asbestos in unprotected conditions. In years to come it will be a similar problem facing India as the incidence of asbestos-related illnesses will undoubtedly rise."

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